Cambridge Bay swimmers left high and dry after community pool forced to close

The hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, has closed its community pool, citing hazardous conditions in need of repair.

Hamlet says structural problems make the pool unsafe for swimmers to use

The community pool in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, sits unused after being closed for repairs. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

People looking to take a dip in Cambridge Bay's community swimming pool won't be able to for the rest of the summer.

The hamlet says the indoor pool, which is only operational for six weeks a year in the summer, isn't safe.

The facility's doors closed for the year Monday because of major structural problems.

"Last two or three years, we have been really fighting with it," said Richard Webster, who maintains the pool for the Nunavut hamlet of about 1,700 people.

Richard Webster, who maintains the Cambridge Bay pool, says it's unsafe for use. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

The 30-year-old pool is on its "last legs," he said. 

"I wouldn't feel safe with anybody in there," he added, saying the supports that cradle the pool liner — similar to an above-ground pool — are giving way.

The deck surrounding the pool is slumping because of thawing permafrost underneath the building. The braces supporting the metal walls are corroding.

Some of those supports have totally given way, leaving the vinyl liner bulging.

Shifting ground underneath the pool has contributed to problems. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

"If something was really to open up, that water pressure is going to pin you there underwater, if not push you right through under the building. It's a real safety issue," Webster said.

'I feel so bad for the kids'

This latest problem with the pool now has the hamlet weighing its options: fix it or build a new pool.

Marla Limousin, the hamlet's chief administrative officer, says the hamlet is heading into capital planning sessions.

"We'll now have to move [the pool] as a higher priority," Limousin said.

Marla Limousin, Cambridge Bay's chief administrative officer, says the hamlet will discuss what to do with the pool during upcoming capital planning sessions. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

"It's really important. Kids that are not going out on the land and they are in the community — that pool is filled every afternoon and every evening."

It's also the only place in the community where people can learn to swim.

The hamlet is working toward building a new multiplex, which would include an arena, track, pool and youth centre, but it's still early days and there's no money committed yet.

Limousin says they plan to remove the liner to see if the pool can be repaired. It's not clear when those repairs would happen or how long it could take.

"I feel so bad for the kids. They sit there on the steps and wait until the pool is open."

Youth in Cambridge Bay wait outside the door to the community pool. The facility's doors closed on Monday due to major structural problems. (Kate Kyle/CBC)