EDITORIAL: Public pool disclosure

Users of the Grandview Aquatic Centre deserved to be promptly informed of incidents concerning safety and privacy.

There is much to celebrate about South Surrey’s Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

Driving past the facility on 24 Avenue is a sight to behold, with a design that has earned nearly a dozen accolades since opening to the public in March of this year – an auspicious start.

According to the City of Surrey, on any given day during the summer, as many as 2,800 patrons made use of its pool and fitness area, a number that suggests the facility was long overdue.

Despite its popularity, the aquatic centre has had its share of challenges – most notably concerning the privacy of patrons using the universal change rooms, after a woman in June was recorded by cellphone while showering, resulting in one man being banned from all city facilities.

However, it was only this week that we learned the incident was the not the last “inappropriate behaviour” complaint lodged. In fact, there have been “a couple” since, a city manager confirmed.

While city staff say they were unable to substantiate some of the concerns, one that was substantiated – described only as a similar, yet different, scenario to that in June – also resulted in an individual being banned from city facilities.

As disturbing as the fact that these incidents occurred may be, perhaps more disturbing is the fact they weren’t immediately made public.

In the first incident, details were revealed only after the victim took her experience to media. The second came to light this week, only during media inquiries regarding rumoured renovations to the universal changing rooms.

It’s unclear not only why a city review last July found no concerns with the design of the universal change rooms, but also why it was determined the public wasn’t to be informed in a timely manner. The facility’s patrons – young children, teens, adults and seniors – have a right to know what happened and a right to decide for themselves whether appropriate steps were taken.

And, as we noted in this space last summer, a city-facility ban does nothing to instill confidence in residents who have occasion to visit facilities beyond the city’s control, across Surrey and beyond. Only our legal system can address that.

While work underway this week should improve patrons’ sense of privacy and security in the universal change rooms, the fact the City of Surrey wasn’t proactive in explaining why it was taking place deserves further explanation.

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