EDMONTON–Canada’s first natural pool has opened to the public in north Edmonton.
The Borden Natural Swimming Pool opened quietly last week, after two years of delays. Its grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
The $14.4-million pool will be the first in Canada to use aquatic plants, plankton and a series of filters to keep the water clean, instead of chlorine or salt.
“Swimming Borden is like swimming in a lake,” said the pool’s facility manager Cyndi Schlosser, adding the water will have a greenish tinge.
“You’re not going to have the chemical smell of chlorine, or salt, which is another one that most people are used to feeling. So you won’t have that smell or taste or feel.”
She said the water will feel softer and be cooler in temperature than other outdoor pools. While most are heated to 28 or 29 C, the city will heat Borden to 23 C to eliminate risk factors from potential pathogens in warmer water.
To limit phosphates in the pool, swimmers will be asked to use special phosphate-free sunscreens and swimming attire that is not made from cotton, as certain dyes and components are bad for the plants. Swimmers will be made to take mandatory soaking showers before diving in, to wash plant-harming chemicals off their bodies.
But Schlosser notes the concept of a natural pool is nothing new. Although North America only has one other in Minneapolis, Minn., they’ve been used in Europe since the 1980s.
“There is over 300 public natural swimming pools in the world and there has been an increase in interest in natural swimming pools as an alternative to chlorinated pools,” she said.
The city has been working with Alberta Health Services throughout the pool’s construction to find safe ways to test the water, and is abiding by German FLL safety guidelines. City workers will do biological tests three time a week internally, and will send a biological sample to AHS once a week.
“We are doing state-of-the-art, on-site biological testing to ensure the safety of the patrons and public who come to our facility,” Schlosser said.
She said Edmonton getting the first in Canada speaks to the city’s enthusiasm for outdoor swimming. The main pool will stretch 43 metres by 16.8 metres, with a smaller separated children’s pool.
The space will also include a sand area, volleyball area, splash nozzles, a concession, patio chairs and picnic tables.
The project was initially scheduled for completion in summer 2016, but was redesigned to lower the cost. In June this year, it was delayed once more to fix a leak in the filtration system.
Jeremy Fritsche with the Bellevue Community League got a good first impression when he took his family to the pool last week, noting spacious change rooms and lots of room to relax and do other activities around the pool. He said he expects it to be packed with kids for the rest of the summer.
“People are really excited about the new pool,” Fritsche said. “It’s so good to see the city investing in an older park like that, and making it one of these top city-level parks.”