A swim meet that brought over 400 participants to the Fernie Aquatic Centre on Saturday (Oct. 29) morning was relocated due to ‘extensive’ vandalism.
A City of Fernie Facebook post says “We have some unfortunate news: The Fernie Aquatic Centre will be closed for the next 5-7 days after extensive vandalism to the facility overnight.”
“The vandals broke numerous exterior windows, shattering glass all over the pool deck and into the main pool.”
Brett Logan, director of parks, facilities and recreation with the City of Fernie, said staff noticed the debris when they were opening up the facility Saturday morning.
“They started looking around a little more, and we found out that the roof was accessed by some vandals.”
The RCMP has been contacted and there is an active investigation into the incident, Logan said.
“Unfortunately, we had a swim event planned for this morning, the Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club’s had more than 400 participants that showed up this morning.”
Logan said the event was able to relocate to the Western Financial Place pool in Cranbrook. The City of Fernie post said it brought in participants from the Kootenays, Alberta and Montana.
Logan said “Thanks to our neighbours in Cranbrook… they were able to make arrangements with their staff there and as we speak they’re on their way to Cranbrook to try and pull that off.”
Logan said City of Fernie and aquatic centre staff were actively working on cleaning the pool.
“This is going to basically result in us needing to drain the pool completely, cleaning out the pool once it’s empty and then refilling it.”
The city’s Facebook post says “City Staff have spent the morning boarding windows, assessing damage, cleaning glass off the pool deck,” along with the draining and refilling process.
Logan said “We’re trying our best to get that up and running as soon as possible,” adding that they’ve notified the programs and the public that were scheduled to use the facility in the next few days.
He said the incident isn’t the first time they’ve had vandalism around the pool. In 2019, there were two instances where people broke the windows, gained entry and damaged equipment. They had to drain the pool then too, which he said is very costly. Before that, someone had lit a fire outside the front doors, scorching the side of the building.
“It’s time for surveillance cameras, and we’ll be actively looking into that, setting it up around the perimeter. Because we’ve noticed an increase in vandalism and mischievous behaviour.”
Logan said the City of Fernie and aquatic centre have great staff.
“Everyone’s really bummed out by the whole thing.”
“It’s unfortunate we have to deal with this.”