Lifeguard David Tooms takes a break from his normal life-guarding duties to do some needed maintenance work in the drained hot tub at the Terrace Aquatic Centre on Sept. 6. The facility is closed for a month while work goes on.

It’s clean up time at the pool

This year's pool clean is also a chance to assess the infrastructure of the 40-year-old building

For a lot of families, a yearly spring clean helps keep the home in good shape. But at the Terrace Aquatic Centre it is all about the fall clean – and aquatic centre workers are elbow-deep in the work right now.

The pool is closed for four weeks until Sept. 30 for routine maintenance, deep cleaning the facility, and tackling a couple of larger projects.

It’s best to do the work in the fall because summer programs are winding down and there is a bit of a break before programs ramp up in October, said aquatic manager Michael Carlyle during a tour of the facility.

“It’s cleaning that can’t be done when the facility is in use,” he said of the work now underway.

The shutdown begins by turning off the building’s heat and then draining the pool, all 125,00 gallons of it.

Workers cordon off the area for a couple of days to assess and clean the pool basin. Then, filters, tanks, jets, and tiles are emptied, cleaned or replaced and the sauna’s inner parts are shipped away for refurbishing.

The computer that manages the building’s atmosphere is checked and the lightbulbs you see above the balcony are replaced.

All the while, lifeguards are detailing and scrubbing all of the nooks and crannies in the change rooms and around the building.

“We’re making sure everything is spotless,” said Carlyle, noting that Q tips are even used to get into the corners of the lockers.

One of two larger project priorities for the centre this year is building benches in the front entrance to allow patrons to take off their shoes and boots at the front before they go into the change room.

This will stop sand, salt and dirt from getting out into the pool area and help the cleaning system work more efficiently, Carlyle said.

The second priority is finishing balcony upgrades that were started last year.

“We want the experience of the families that use the facility to be positive,” Carlyle said, noting that a nicer viewing area will make parents watching their kids more comfortable.

While small projects and routine maintenance happens every year at this time, this year the shut down also allows a team of consultants to assess the condition of the aquatic centre and prepare a long-term plan for the 40-year-old facility.

The report, prepared by Bruce Carscadden Architect Inc. (the same company who headed up the Sportsplex), will be the first such report in about a decade and it will help the city plan for systematic improvements.

The report is in its final stages and should be ready for council to discuss in October.

“The last major work was the replacement of the east wall, hot tub/leisure pool boiler and pool deck/changeroom air handling systems … in 2009/2010,” said Carmen Didier, the city’s director of leisure services. “We know there are other issues with the pool that we will need to address in the very near future.”

Carlyle said the goal is always to make the facility as comfortable as possible for the people using the pool – but don’t expect to see a tear-down and re-build of the centre to be recommended in the report, instead, the plan will point out priority projects and a timeline to complete them efficiently.

More focused, well-planned out projects in the near future are better than letting the facility deteriorate so bigger renovations have to happen later, he explained.

“It will help a lot with infrastructure ideas,” he said of the assessment. “And help with what is the best practise to look after the facility in the long-term.”