I have been hearing about some objections recently to the plans for Edmonton’s new Queen Elizabeth pool.
Now, I have not seen the proposed plans, but from what I have heard it sounds very similar to plans for facilities in Europe that I had seen at a conference a few years ago.
Some of the objections I have heard people cite about the Queen Elizabeth Pool are legitimate concerns, if the design is not done properly. If done properly these issues would not exist.
Based on what I saw for a design of a universal change room, I felt that it would be a very efficient design. I encouraged one of my former employers to seriously consider this design for a pool change room.
The way this concept was laid out, you would pay then go into a change stall that had doors on both sides. If one door opened, the other door would automatically open.
You would change, then take your clothes and place them in a locker. The locker area was designed in such a way that it was open to the pool deck area. This would allow the lifeguards, and the swimmers to be able to look into the locker area from the pool deck. It would significantly reduce, if not eliminate, theft from lockers.
On the sides of the large pool change room you would have showers and segregated toilets.
Some of the concerns that I have heard voiced include: how long you would be waiting in such a change room?
Many of us have been in family change rooms where things move rather slowly, part of this is due to the fact that the original family change room design included a shower and change area all in one room.
By having a separate shower area and dry change areas, you will speed people up in the change areas (similar to the dry change stalls in a segregated change room).
Another concern that I have heard is that of people doing inappropriate things in such a change room.
With the entire change room being open to the pool deck it will actually discourage this kind of behaviour even more so than in segregated change rooms. For those concerned with what goes on inside the stalls, if the stalls are designed as stalls with a 30-45cm gap near the floor, rather than rooms, this will not be an issue.
I feel that the children will actually be much safer in this style change room than a segregated one.
Another concern that I have heard is about pool staffing and how this style design would ultimately increase staffing levels. I do not agree with this.
If it is designed as mentioned above, I feel that staffing levels could remain as they are, with the added benefit that it would not matter what gender your staff are. They would all be able to clean the change room, which is always an issue in aquatic facilities.
Provided there are an adequate number of change stalls at the Queen E Pool, there should be no issues with excessive wait times.
I’ve worked in the pool industry for quite a while, having been a lifeguard since 1991. I have worked at various facilities across western Canada and continue to work at aquatic facilities, not only as a lifeguard, but also as a supervisor.