By Steve Hubrecht

[email protected]

The cool pool at the world-famous Radium Hot Springs aquacourt has been closed for major upgrades since early this winter, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

There have been several renovations (and consequent closures) at the Parks Canada-operated pools over the past few years, with a total price tag of $28 million. The current work is a $13 million effort to restore the cool pool with new concrete, to prevent the foundation of the main building from eroding (by installing culverts), and to put in a new accessible lift. The project was announced by the federal government back in mid-January, and work began almost immediately, with the hot pools remaining open, but the cool pool closed.

At that time Parks Canada chief operating officer for Canadian Rockies Hot Springs Julian England said the work and cool pool closure would last three months. But the upgrades are now more than five months along, and the work (and closure) are set to continue for some time yet.

England told the Pioneer last week that the hold up for Parks Canada is the same issue that has bedevilled so many infrastructure projects in the Columbia Valley for the past few years: it’s hard to find people to hire, and there can be challenges acquiring materials needed for construction. 

“We had hoped for three months. It is obviously going to be a lot longer than we had hoped. That is primarily down to labour shortages, supply chain delays and also subcontractor availability,” England explained. He also couldn’t give an updated timeline for completion and re-opening of the cool pool. 

Part of the work involves lifting the cool pool deck. There are voids under the deck that need to be dealt with, and Parks Canada needs to examine them in order to figure out exactly how to fix them (and to estimate how long that will take).

“We need to determine what needs to be done with the voids before committing to a timeline,” said England.

While the cool pool upgrades are behind schedule, the main building foundation renovations are going well. The base and supporting columns are in place, and workers are just waiting for the spring runoff to subside to install the culverts.

The culverts have been pre-fabricated and the sections will be lowered down and then assembled under the building. 

The upgrades have been two years in planning. So far the project has resulted in $3 million spent in the valley.