City of Surrey indoor aquatic centres, including the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in South Surrey, have been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Surrey councillor calls for immediate re-opening of city’s indoor aquatic facilities

‘There is no health reason why Surrey’s facilities shouldn’t be open today,’ says Linda Annis

Speaking on behalf of the city’s seniors and those with disabilities, a Surrey councillor has renewed a call for local aquatic centres to open immediately, as opposed to waiting until the planned October reopening date.

A news release issued by Coun. Linda Annis Monday morning stated that “there is no health reason why Surrey’s facilities shouldn’t be open today.”

“Right now, the only reason they remain closed is to save money that is being siphoned off to pay for (Surrey Mayor) Doug McCallum’s $129-million police transition,” Annis said in the release.

“Families, swim teams, seniors and those with disabilities who use our facilities for health, fitness and rehabilitation want our facilities reopened right now, and so do I. We’ve spent millions on these community facilities and now they’re sitting empty for no good reason. We can reopen safely and we should do that immediately and not wait until October, which is the mayor’s plan.”

In early August, the city announced plans to reopen its parks, recreation and culture facilities in a “phased approach” and many facilities, including some arenas, have reopened since. A number of facilities, including the South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre and South Surrey Arena, are set to open Sept. 8.

Pools, however, remain closed, including South Surrey’s Grandview Aquatic Centre and South Surrey Indoor Pool.

Ramona Kaptyn, president of the White Rock-Surrey chapter of CARP – a Canadian non-profit group that represents more than 330,000 older Canadians – echoed Annis’ thoughts on the importance of reopening aquatic facilities immediately.

In the same news release, Kaptyn said keeping indoor pools closed “will lead to medical problems for seniors resulting in a greater burden on our health-care system.”

“Many of us have osteoarthritis and other health issues that are greatly soothed and improved by aqua-cise, whirlpools and saunas,” she said.

“With summer ending, and damp cool weather on the way, many of us are worrying that we will have to depend on increased doses of pain meds. Opening Surrey’s indoor pools with specific controlled hours for older residents, who diligently pay taxes for these services, would be a great boon to our health and mental well-being.”

South Fraser Active Living (SFAL) – which aims to make community facilities inclusive for all people – was also critical of the city’s decision.

SFAL’s Kim Egger questioned why the City of Surrey has “closed the doors completely” on people who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Shame on the mayor for putting his ego and an unnecessary new police force ahead of the most vulnerable citizens of Surrey,” Egger said.

PAN has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.

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