For years, Greg Tobin has routinely taken his children to the Aquarena swimming pool in St. John’s for family outings.
But he’s refusing to step foot in there anymore after experiencing what he described as appalling conditions in one of the change rooms.
Tobin said the family change room has old lockers that are covered in rust, both outside and inside.
“It’s absolutely disgusting,” Tobin told The Telegram Wednesday. “I’m not going back there. That’s it.”
Tobin — who uses the room when he is with his eight-year-old daughter — said there’s no washroom, no shower and not even a mirror. As well, the floor is often covered in mud, he said.
Tobin was so repulsed by the state of the room, he posted photos on his Facebook page, where he wrote, “I have to comment on this. Sorry for complaining ... actually, no I’m not! …
“I’ve been to a lot of pools, but the condition of the change room has deterred me from wanting to go back. No washroom, shower or mirror. AND THIS!!”
Tobin said other parents who use the change room often comment to him on its poor condition, and all agree the room needs major renovations.
“It’s not safe and not healthy, especially for children. I can’t believe they haven’t done something with it. It’s long overdue. It’s ridiculous.” — Greg Tobin
“Those lockers need to be ripped out. And the room should at least be mopped regularly, but it’s obviously not. It’s not even clean,” he said.
“It’s not safe and not healthy, especially for children. I can’t believe they haven’t done something with it. It’s long overdue. It’s ridiculous.”
When contacted by The Telegram, Janet Crane, manager of aquatics and recreation at the Aquarena, acknowledged there was rust on the lockers in the room. However, she said there was no safety concern, as the rust is not flaking.
“The metal isn’t peeling away. It’s a liquid rust that runs because of the humidity,” said Crane, adding that the maintenance staff regularly clean the rust off the lockers.
“But I don’t think there’s anything in there that would be considered a health issue.”
The room is the facility’s special-needs change room, which can be used by caretakers assisting special-needs customers and by parents with children age 6-8 of the opposite sex who are unable to change by themselves.
Crane noted the four-decade-old building — which was constructed when St. John’s hosted the 1977 Canada Summer Games — isn’t designed to have extra amenities like a family room. Memorial University took over operations of the facility from the city in the mid-1990s. The Aquarena is part of the Works, which also includes the Field House.
Crane said there is a plan to replace the metal lockers with plastic lockers. She said it’s just been difficult to find the type that’s required, as the facility’s supplier doesn’t carry them.
“We’re trying to find a solution,” she said.