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Deep dive: Closures 'typical' for municipal pools, officials say

'Scheduling a closure to perform preventive maintenance is a far better practice than emergency closures,' says Barrie official, noting month-long shutdown is standard
Marcia Russell, the city's manager of recreation and youth services, said annual closures of aquatic facilities are typical for carrying out maintenance. Russell said the time period was chosen due to the completion of summer programs and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Although a month may seem like a long time, the planned closure of the Orillia Recreation Centre’s natatorium/aquatic area is common for municipally maintained pools, city officials say.

Last week, the city announced the rec centre’s aquatic area will be closed between Aug. 20 and Sep. 19 to carry out annual maintenance. 

The work will include draining, cleaning and inspecting the aquatic area’s three pools, carrying out preventive maintenance, cleaning under the moveable floor, and carrying out leisure pool features maintenance.

“It is typical for municipally run aquatic facilities to close annually. The typical time frame is approximately 2.5 to three weeks in duration,” Marcia Russell, the city's manager of recreation and youth services, told OrilliaMatters

Since this will be the first pool closure since the rec centre fully opened, Russell said it will be a little longer than the typically expected timeframe. 

“Due to this being our first pool closure since opening fully, we will be a little longer in duration than what is typical to accommodate the number of items requiring maintenance,” she said. “We will be reviewing timelines for future annual maintenance and will know more once we have drained, refilled and reheated the three pools to their regulated temperatures.”

Russell said the "annual preventative maintenance is required to extend the life of the aquatic area and to help minimize unanticipated problems through the year."

She also noted the city chose late August to begin its work due to a lull in annual programming and access to outdoor recreation.

“The maintenance dates were selected based on several factors, including the completion of aquatic summer programming, the start date of fall aquatic programming, and because the summer months tend to be slightly less utilized due to beach and splash pad usage within the community," Russell explained.

Although a month without swimming may feel frustrating for some of the rec centre’s 2,000 daily visitors, the City of Barrie also carries out similar annual maintenance programs on its own aquatic facilities, say officials.

Each year, Barrie closes its pools for a month, but it staggers maintenance across its three aquatic facilities to ensure that at least two are open at all times – a luxury that Orillia does not have.

“Scheduling a closure to perform preventive maintenance is a far better practice than emergency closures when the unforeseen happens due to a lack of maintenance,” explained Barrie’s senior communications advisor, Scott Lamantia.

“Out of the 30 days, it takes roughly two to three days to drain and then another three to five to fill and heat, so roughly eight days of that, which leaves 22 days for the actual maintenance," Lamantia said.

He explained what actually happens during the closure:

  • Check the shells of the pools once drained – checking for loose or damages tile that require repair;
  • Re-grout areas where grout has been lost and fully wash the shells at the same time;
  • Inspect all pipes and drains to ensure they are all clear;
  • Check deck drains to ensure they are in good repair;
  • Clean sand filters by washing the sand with a cleaner and inspecting the lateral pipes that return water to the pools. If they are cracked, you will see evidence of sand in the pool during operation;
  • Replace chlorine tubing that gets clogged by calcification;
  • Clean, paint and refurbish change room floors, benches and lockers that can get damaged in the high humidity environment;
  • Repair and replace shower heads, tiles etc as needed and re-grout as needed;
  • Replace lighting as needed over the pools;
  • TSSA must inspect the water slide (amusement device under the TSSA code) and repair as needed 

In a press release, Orillia officials said that Fun Pass holders who do not wish to use other rec centre amenities may request a membership pause throughout the maintenance period. 

Residents with questions about the upcoming maintenance may contact recreation and youth services at 705-325-4386 or email


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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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