The city of Ottawa will pump out all 53 wading pools for the summer on Tuesday afternoon, despite a last-minute effort to keep the season afloat until the current heat wave subsides.
The pools were always scheduled to close August 24, but River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington wrote to city officials on Monday asking if there was some way at least some of them, especially in what the councilor called high-risk communities, could stay open until the end of the week, or at least until the hot, humid weather. the weather gives way to cooler temperatures.
Ottawa has been under a heat warning since Aug 19, with average daytime peaks in the low 30s and the humidex often reaching the 40s.
But according to Dan Chenier, director of recreation, culture and facilities services, too few lifeguards on staff, mostly students, were willing to stay on until the end of the week.
For parents who watched their kids enjoy one last dip in the city’s wading pools Tuesday, the news of the impending shutdown brought disappointment.
“We just found out that the pool is going to close tomorrow,” said Victoria Chanie-Palmer, who took her toddler and son to the pool at the St-Laurent complex.
“It’s such a shame because we’ve been enjoying it all summer. It’s really great for us, especially with this warm weather, and it’s the perfect place for the kids. I really hoped it would stay open until the end of the school holidays, because that’s what we need it for.”
The gap between the closing of the paddling pools and the start of school is also a concern for Liz Eidsness, who took her two children to the Parkdale paddling pool on Tuesday.
“I’m sorry,” Eidsness said. “I think they should keep the pools open until school starts. There are a lot of events, camps and things that are shut down, and what should the kids do?’
Both Chanie-Palmer and Eidsness said they appreciate the city’s staffing and budget concerns, but wondered if there wasn’t a way to meet the needs of residents who rely on wading pools, especially during a heat wave.
“I respect that need,” Eidsness said. “But a lot of city services run year-round, and this one isn’t open that long, so why not?”
Meanwhile, lifeguard supervision and daily water tests on the city’s beaches will end on August 29.
Splash pads are expected to remain open until September 15, while the city’s nine deep-water outdoor pools will be closed between now and September 6, depending on their location.