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Fit City

Jody Vance jumps straight into the deep end on threatened pool closures in Vancouver.
Lord Byng

It’s the first week of back to school. Kids are waffling between angst and happiness, and the rest of us milking the waning days of good weather.

My Vancouver summers always include riding the seawall, walking old growth forest, sitting seaside — or a personal favourite: hitting a pool.

Soon we will move indoors, batten down the hatches, and look to fill rainy, dark and chilly after school hours

For many, indoor community pools are a go-to, and yet some are threatened with demolition.

The Vancouver Park Board is shortly expected to table their VanSplash Plan, which will lay out what’s next for small community indoor pools. Two pools in particular are at risk: Lord Byng and Templeton.

There are a million reasons to swim – and just as many reasons to build more pools, without shuttering others. There is Middle to be found here.

Our city is growing, why centralize pools to major structures? We densify communities, we will use the pools — all of the pools.

Parents stress about filling their kids’ rainy day schedule with something fun and active. We constantly talk about getting kids off screens and battling the growth of obesity in our culture.

Many cannot afford costly clubs and sports programs, community pools (priced $2 - $4) are often the answer to keeping kids active.

Most community indoor pools have oodles of free parking, are conveniently tucked into neighbourhoods, and have incredibly flexible operating hours. For these reasons, they have no business on the chopping block.

Pools like Lord Byng are prime examples of space worth saving.  Now that their future is in doubt, we need to stand up for them.

If you’ve never been to Byng, it’s a throwback to what used to be Vancouver community gathering spaces. On the back side of one of the West Side’s most recognizable Hollywood school locations, it’s where Riverdale is shot.

Byng has not fallen into costly disrepair — yes, it could use a spruce up — this pool is thriving heartbeat of Point Grey.

Pools are not just for kids and teens; seniors are often the most regular visitors. They don’t need a competition size pool, that seems to be a City priority, they need to float and move.

On the tightest of budgets, families use pools as a go-to for hours of healthy fun. Recovering from injury? Swim. Struggling with mobility? Swim. Aging body that needs flexibility? Swim.

Yes, swim clubs need big pools — but if I might suggest The Middle — communities deserve their pools as well. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

Certainly there’s enough money in this wealthy city for some philanthropic folks to step up, and help, and get your name on something cool.

It’s a win-win to swim.

More than just a perfect way to keep moving during the fall and winter, continue that summer fitness vibe — it’s often doctor’s orders.

When faced with early sunsets, chill in the air, let’s give as many citizens as possible the option to take their swim regime indoors — it sets up for a fit city.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.


  • Last week Jody took square aim at the shockingly high cost of an evening at the Midway at Playland.
  • More Jody? You bet. She wants more options for kids (especially) to get active and off the screen - and she gets results. This column nudged the Vancouver School Board to (re-)open outdoor basketball courts.
  • Of course, screen time means different things to different people. For the Vancouver Titans, it's the job.