Good news for swimmers: Borden Park pool is targeted to open in late summer of 2017.

Calgary-based New Perspective Pools will build the Natural Swimming Experience pool. Built in 1920, the original pool was in dire need of a new filtration system. Rather than invest in an aged facility, a series of open houses pinpointed the need for something new. Three years ago, the idea for the first natural swimming pool in Canada was approved with input from local residents. In 2014, the old pool was closed.

Instead of using chlorine, the new pool will be filtered naturally. Water from an aquifer goes through a sand filter, gravel filter, and regeneration pond with naturally-occurring zoo plankton. Plant material is then sent to a UV filter where it is pumped into the main pool.

Rachel Dumont, program manager with the city, said, “These types of swimming ponds are popular in Europe. They have a natural feel, which the community felt suited the garden-like aspects of Borden Park.”

But when the original design and tender came in at more than double the $14-million budget, the project was reassessed. An additional year was needed while the pool was redesigned and retendered.

Significant changes have been made to keep costs in line.

Rather than build the proposed curved design, the pool will boast a traditional rectangle with a concrete basin, which Dumont said is “more durable given our weather, especially our winters.”

The rectangular design can be converted into a traditional system. “If the natural pool concept doesn’t work as planned, we can go back to a chlorinated system,” She explained. “That way we can ensure the investment is not lost.”

The swimming basin will have a maximum depth of two metres (6.56 feet), not deep enough for diving. Water temperature will be 24 to 26 C. Most outdoor pools are 28 C.

“It will take time to create the ideal environment for plants and people. It’s all about maintaining an appropriate environment for plants in the water filtration area. Water filters through the plants and into the pool. This is Mother Nature’s little filtration system,” said Dumont.

Pools typically open during the May long weekend. Start up for Borden Pool may be closer to June 1 and the swimming season may be shorter because filtering plants need time to regenerate and re-establish themselves each spring.

“Only 10 per cent of the natural pool system relies on plants, so we may be able to open earlier. It will take some trial and error to see if we can start earlier,” said Dumont.

Additionally, wood decking and sand will create a beach-like environment. The sand will provide a fun play element and large umbrellas will provide shade. Trees will also create shade at certain times of the day.

Visitors with mobility issues will be able to access the entire pool and shaded areas.

Although winter skating was proposed, it is now off the list.

“It was going to cost a significant amount of overage to provide enough concrete to enforce the walls of the pool for the ice load,” said Dumont. “It’s a strong possibility that we can add an ice rink elsewhere in the park at a much lower overhead.”

Header Image: In Borden Park pool, water will be filtered naturally. Credit: supplied.