More than 100 residents have signed a letter addressed to South Surrey Indoor Pool staff, expressing their disappointment in staff’s handling after a patron reportedly made “hateful” comments to visible minorities at the City of Surrey facility.
Surrey council and mayor were CC’d on the 220-word document, which explains that multiple complaints have been made to pool management about a guest of the pool.
“We no longer feel comfortable, welcome and safe at the pool,” the letter states. “Second, we must assume the city of Surrey officially supports and accepts racism.”
The letter, emailed to Peace Arch News by Eric Yu, says a patron has reportedly made “racist, hateful and hurtful comments to Women, Chinese and South Asian patrons of the pool community.”
Yu explained to PAN Friday that the harassment has been going on for several months.
“People always report to lifeguard on duty. Some of the instances, the lifeguard just turned away and didn’t care,” Yu said. “That’s why we want to ask the pool to take action if these kinds of things happen.”
Yu explained that the situation recently got “heated” after a confrontation between the patron and another pool guest named Todd.
“They were in the sauna room in the pool. Todd is a white person and is very friendly to our group. (The patron) said to Todd, “Why do you get along with these kind of people so well? Didn’t your parents teach you?”
Yu said that after hearing the comment, Todd became “emotional.”
“He almost punched (the patron), but he got control. This happened a few times before, and (Todd) was afraid that one time he could lose control and get in trouble,” Yu explained.
“This kind of language can not happen in the pool. It can not happen in public.”
The sauna-room confrontation is described – to a lesser extent – in the letter emailed to pool staff.
“Because of your inaction on this obvious racist attack, and now in fear of his personal safety, this supportive English patron no longer attends the pool,” the letter states.
Surrey manager of community and recreation services Lisa White sent PAN, upon request, a statement regarding the petition.
“South Surrey Indoor Pool staff was made aware of a complaint of an individual who was behaving inappropriately. Staff reported the incident to their supervisor, the supervisor met with the individual to review the City’s Code of Conduct in Facilities Policy. The individual agreed to follow the policy and has since visited the pool without any further incident that we are aware of,” the statement read.
The statement said that the city takes allegations of racism very seriously, and that the city investigates and implements appropriate action as per the city’s Code of Conduct Policy.
“Staff is following up with the petition’s representatives to discuss their concerns,” the statement read.
Yu said he contacted PAN to raise awareness.
“Every facility has rules and regulations. I just want to bring everyone’s attention to this situation and just do whatever it is we need to do. We’re not asking for anything at the moment, we just want to bring it to attention,” Yu said.