Pool, rinks at Bell Aliant Centre poised to reopen to public soon

Programming resumes Sept. 8 at the Bell Aliant Centre on the UPEI campus after the COVID-19 closure in March allowed staff to dive into a round of repairs and capital improvements. 
Staff still remaining on site after the COVID-19 shutdown in March were able to tackle cleaning, painting and repairs so that the Bell Aliant Centre will show at its best when it reopens to smaller crowds. (Sue Fraser/submitted)

The pool and rinks at the Bell Aliant Centre in Charlottetown are almost ready for their closeup. 

That will come on Sept. 8 when programming resumes at the facility on the UPEI campus after the COVID-19 closure in March, which let staff dive into a round of repairs and capital improvements. 

"We are opening right after Labour Day," said general manager Sue Fraser, saying some pool deck work remains to be tackled before the pool can accept leisure and competitive swimmers again. 

The aquatic spaces were emptied and cleaned but other than general freshness, Fraser said "people coming in to use the pool won't see any visible difference.... Improved air quality is the ultimate outcome."

A dehumidification project budgeted at $2-million should deliver that eventually; it will still be underway behind the scenes when the pool reopens. 

The facility also has a newly paved parking lot, thanks to a $300,000 project. 

Over at the MacLauchlan Arena, staff tackled painting, cleaning and repairs while the ice was out on the two rink surfaces. The ice was put back recently for the Andrews Hockey Growth Program. 

The two ice surfaces at the Bell Aliant Centre constitute natural zones for the purposes of COVID-19 separation, says facility general manager Sue Fraser. (Sue Fraser/submitted)

Programming will be a bit different

Fraser said COVID-19 protocols will cause some changes when the doors open again.

"The programming in the aquatic side will be significantly different," she said.

For example, Aquafit classes would typically have 40 people but now "there'll be significantly less people in the pool at any given time. We'll just have to offer more classes."

The rink is a little easier because the two sheets of ice form two natural zones, Fraser pointed out.

The pool area at the Bell Aliant Centre has been scrubbed clean and refreshed, with a dehumidification project underway. (Sue Fraser/submitted)

"On the arena side of things, the user groups shouldn't see a whole lot of difference, other than that we are restricting dressing rooms so that children under the age of 13 would come fully dressed and they would just need to lace up and go on the ice. That restricts the amount of traffic that's going to be down at dressing room level." 

The facility also has a new family dressing room. 

The Bell Aliant managers are also busy arranging for the Charlottetown Islanders to start practising and playing pre-season games before the team returns to the Eastlink Centre in October.

Logistics are still in flux for some aspects leading up to the reopening date, said Fraser.

"We have to be fluid in whatever planning we're doing, because as you know, the rules of engagement keep changing — and luckily they're changing for the better, so that we're able to increase the numbers in here."

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