Everything’s Going Swimmingly

Last Fall, I wrote about the City’s plans to completely overhaul the ageing aquatic facility that’s located beside the Memorial Centre.  Presently, the entire grounds around the M-Centre are getting a much needed face lift, while the work will eventually focus on breathing new life into the Leo Lafleur Waterpark.  While we were given a decent look at the proposed designs, we really have no idea what the final facility will resemble.  Regardless, even if the city simply runs a sprinkler out to the middle of the lawn, it will be a vast improvement over the present pool, which has been neglected and closed for far too long.

On that same note, the City has proposed some substantial upgrades to other ageing aquatic facilities, specifically Artillery Park and Richardson Beach.  While taking a leisurely dip in Lake Ontario may not sound healthy nor safe, the proposed changes to Richardson Beach are sort of appealing, while they include a more accessible point of entering the water, bike racks, a lookout point, and much needed renovations to the existing bath house.  Construction is set to start soon, and I’ve heard that the work will be completed by the end of May 2010.  Even if this project is completed on time and within budget, I can’t see myself taking a dip at a beach that’s located less than 1km away from a water purification plant.

Onto Artillery Park, where they’re investigating possible enhancements to the well loved, well used, downtown pool and recreation centre.  This is the same watering hole where I earned my lifeguarding qualification back in the day, so it has a special place in my heart. Highlights from the preliminary concept drawing include:

  • A tots pool
  • Hot tub
  • Water slide
  • Ramp entry into pool
  • Re-configured and expanded change rooms
  • Family change rooms
  • Strength & Cardio room
  • Aerobics room
  • Steam room
  • Elevator

In addition to the proposed and planned work mentioned above, the City is also moving ahead with an ambitious aquatic add-on to the Invista Centre.  According to the concept drawing, Kingston’s new 4 pad ice rink could eventually become home to:

  • A 25 metre competition pool with spectator seating
  • A leisure pool with beach entry, leisure lanes and lazy river
  • A water slide
  • Tots pool
  • A flow rider (a wave pool)
  • Gymnasium
  • Running track
  • Five multi-purpose rooms
  • Additional change rooms, storage and administrative space
  • New lease-able and/or program space

While I’m certainly not opposed to the idea of providing Kingstonians with additional leisure and recreation space, I’m a bit concerned about which projects will be given priority. I would hate to see the City choose to proceed with plans to put in a modern aquatic centre at the invista centre, and forget about Artillery Park altogether. In my mind, so long as it is financially feasible to renovate, Kingston needs to update existing infrastructure, before we go building a crystal palace out in middle of nowhere. Whether you agree or not, please drop a few comments off beloe.  Moreover, please let the City know how you feel about these prospective aquatic projects.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

11 thoughts on “Everything’s Going Swimmingly

  • Harv,

    I can't say I agree with you saying swimming in lake O is unsafe for your health. Plus, being down stream of a water purification plant takes water out of the lake. The solutes and waste from the process aren't just pumped back into the lake.
    Visit Lake Ontario Waterkeeper for info on the swimming in the lakes.
    I think the richardson beach plan is well over due.

    • It may be a bit of a stretch to say that Richardson Beach is totally unsafe, but given the lack of historical data on local water quality, you can't contend that the area is free and clear of health hazards. I agree that these renos are long overdue, but I would also like to see improved reporting of water quality to help people make better, informed decisions. As for the purification plant, I am 'sure' it pumps nothing into the water…especially on days with downpours that submerge King Street.

      • Your thinking of the combine sewer overflows (CSO's) when we get heavy rain. There is some discharge at the base of collingwoood st, but the majority is dumped underwater midway out to wolfe – still despicable, but at least its not right on shore.

        • There is a hell of a lot of it though – 58 Olympic size swimming pools-worth according to Ontario Waterkeeper and plenty ends up around the shores of Wolfe Island (where I live). I am sure lots of it gets washed back to the beaches of Kingston too…


          • Just noticed that article myself. Astonishing that we aren't seeing more about this in the local press…or on here for that matter. Hopefully K7 will have something to say about it soon.

    • Funny that I'm just finding this article now, but your recommendation to check out Lake Ontario Waterkeeper paid off! "We are just two months into the year 2010 and the City of Kingston has dumped the equivalent of 58 Olympic-sized swimming pools of sewage into Lake Ontario" Read the entire article for more info. Still think it's safe to go in the water?

  • Leo LaFleur hasn't been closed that long…just since the end of the season last year. From what the lifeguards there told me, they've had a number of plumbing & foundation problems for a long time. I'm really happy to hear that they're doing something over there though…first because I live very close, but also because it's the only outdoor pool that I know of. Anyone ever swim at the Y? HORRIBLE. It's HOT. I want to swim, not bathe, thanks, and the pool there that is kept at a lower temperature isn't in general use for us non-athletic swimmers, it's saved for the people doing laps, so I'm not even sure if it IS any cooler than the one we are allowed in.

    Artillery park isn't bad, but my son who could stand head and shoulders out of the water at Leo LaFleur, wasn't tall enough to stand in the shallow end there…plus, it stank terribly of chlorine.

    As for the lake…that works for me as well, except that it's not within walking distance for the little legs I'll be taking with me. I do enjoy some night swims down there at times, and have just kept an eye on the safety ratings. I'd let my kids swim at Richardson Beach so long as it was deemed "safe" at the time…probably cleaner than the water at Leo LaFleur on those Free Pee Fridays (which I haven't attended because of the sheer number of people!).

    Invista? What's that? Some township thing? <grin> This Glenburnie girl does her best to stay within the (old city) limits, after having to grow up outside of them. :) Does sound like something that would make a good spot for a concert venue of some sort though. (Can you blame me for getting my jabs in? The aquatics should have come before the stupid lvec.) Out of curiosity though, is the Invista plan indoor or outdoor? Outdoor might make me venture a little further.

    • The plan for the Invista Centre is for an indoor facility. I think that an indoor facility makes way more sense than an outdoor one, simply by virtue of the fact that it can be used year round. And since when was Leo Lafleur open last summer? I didn't notice any activity there last season?

      • Yep, it was open last summer…was there often with the kids. It was from the lifeguards there that I learned about their ongoing plumbing problems and that the pool would be closed this year.

        And yes, of course it makes more sense to have indoor aquatics in our climate…but still, nothing beats the scent of sunblock & chlorine on your skin on a hot, summer's day.

        Years ago, hopping the gate for a night swim at HoJo's was fairly ordinary, but I think I'll skip trespassing with the wee ones for now. :)

  • Richardson Beach is fine. If you are worried about swimming there, you are likely the type to walk around town with a helmet on. ;)

    For the record, the water purification plant that is within 1km of Richardson beach discharges nothing to the waterfront, it only takes water – the filtration and process wastes go to the sanitary system. The nearest Wastewater treatment plant is 5km west (upstream), or nearly 6km east (downstream).

  • I seem to recall that when the new ice surfaces were being planned, the idea was to close some of the aging, inefficient, maintenance intensive ones to save money. Now , the city has decided to keep all the old ones open, so we get to pay more, rather than less. All so hockey parents don't have to drive their kids a couple of extra minutes…

    Why do I get the feeling we will be going down the same road with our aquatic facilities?

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