A city-led review of a new South Surrey pool – sparked by a complaint of a ‘peeping Tom’ filming a woman – has found no concerns with changing room and shower facilities.
“The facility meets or exceeds all building code and Fraser Health requirements,” Stacey Rennie, the city’s manager of community and recreation services for South Surrey, told Peace Arch News Wednesday.
On June 26, a woman was recorded on a cellphone while in a shower stall at Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre. She was in the universal changing room, where all genders are permitted and walls separating shower stalls don’t reach the floor or ceiling.
“For right now, stall partition heights meet or exceed any facility that we know of anywhere. That wasn’t seen as something that needed to be modified at this point as part of the review,” Rennie said.
Rennie said gaps are necessary to meet building requirements for sprinklers and ventilation, adding the facility already has a policy prohibiting cellphone use in changing rooms, and it is enforced.
Although the review didn’t prompt immediate changes, Rennie said the city is looking at adding “astragals” – moulding to cover the gap between the door and connecting panel.
“If there’s any way of improving that, it’s pretty much the only thing that we found that could in any way enhance people’s sense of privacy,” she said.
According to Rennie, no similar complaints have been made since last month’s incident, which resulted in a ban of a 30-year-old man from city facilities but no criminal charges.
But Sharlene Ramage, the complainant, maintains the city needs to change the design to prevent people from pointing a camera over or under shower walls.
“The pool is really not doing their due diligence. They like the aesthetics – and (the pool) is beautiful – but they really need to do something here,” the 57-year-old told PAN. “This is a pedophile’s dream come true.”
Grandview’s universal facilities offer 12 shower stalls and 10 dry changing stalls, and are designed to accommodate any pool user.
Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne told PAN that pool users have options, noting there are gender-specific changing rooms.
“You’re going to get isolated incidents in any public facility where changing and bathing are concerned, and you’re going to get creeps out there who will go to any length to try and satisfy their own behaviour,” said Hayne, chair of Surrey council’s parks, recreation and sport tourism committee.
Ramage said she continues to use Grandview but now uses the female-only changing room – which has open showers and just one private shower stall, she said.
Demand for common changing areas is growing, according to Rennie. Such facilities can accommodate people with disabilities and their opposite-gender attendants. They also allow families to stay together and improve “operational flexibility,” allowing staff of any gender to attend to issues inside – increasing staff exposure in those spaces.
The design also provides greater visibility by being open to the pool deck, resulting in no theft or vandalism cases in the universal changing room at Grandview. Gender-specific changing rooms, however, haven’t been spared from thieves, something Rennie called a problem “Lower Mainland-wide.”
Hayne called Grandview a “first-class” facility in its design, and said it’s up for an international architecture award.
“The design of the change rooms are very much in keeping with trends around the world,” he said. “The people we’ve talked to, the staff and the clients who’ve used the facility who now number in excess of 80,000… love the facility, love the layout.”