SPORTS

Dartmouth Sportsplex expected to reopen Feb. 25

After two years of renovations, facility includes new pool, gym, child care

When the Dartmouth Sportsplex first opened in 1982, it contained no fitness equipment.

“Jane Fonda hadn’t happened yet,” says Max Chauvin, general manager of the Sportsplex.

When it reopens this February, it will not only have new elliptical machines but also a new pool with an electric chair. The chair is called a “pool pod,” which lowers and lifts people who need assistance to access the water.

“This is the freakiest, coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Chauvin says of the chair.

Ryan Kemp, aquatic director for the Zatzman Sportsplex, tests out the chair device that makes the pool more accessible.   Meagan Campbell

The Sportsplex closed for renovations in spring 2017, beginning a $28 million renovation project. The facility has been renamed the Zatzman Sportsplex after the family of late Dartmouth businessman, Joseph Zatzman, donated $750,000.

On Feb. 11, the Sportsplex will open for tours. On Feb. 18, it will have a soft opening to test out the facilities. The official opening is anticipated to be Feb. 25, with swimming and dance lessons beginning Apr. 1.

The Sportsplex had approximately 1,400 members before the renovations, and its closure added to the pool space problem in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It displaced the Dartmouth Crusaders Swim Club, which sometimes had to practice late at night and at other pools, including one in a marine aviation training facility.

The municipality currently has nine public pools, says Bette El-Hawary, executive director of Swim Nova Scotia.

“They’re all maxed to capacity,” El-Hawary says.

To book lanes, she says, “it’s very competitive because everybody wants the prime time.”

The renovated pool facility at the Zatzman Sportsplex.   Meagan Campbell

Halifax is still awaiting a revision to its Aquatic Strategy, which was expected to come before Halifax regional council in fall 2018. The strategy will address ageing facilities at public pools, not private facilities like the Waegwoltic Club or hotel pools.

Philip Hammond, a recreation planning specialist for the municipality, says 3,400 people were consulted for the new strategy.

When asked about the target deadline for discussing the strategy with regional council Hammond says they are “a little bit behind getting there, but hopefully we’ll get there pretty soon.”

Pretty soon, swimmers will return to the new Sportsplex. The price of a one-month pass has dropped for students, who will pay $60. This is down from $90 in 2016. Seniors will also pay $60, down from $75 in 2016.

A one-month family pass will cost $150, which is nearly unchanged since 2016, but the price now includes a discount to all programs and free child care.

Part of the Pirate’s Cove waterslides have been replaced by a purple slide. It ends in shallow water so sliders don’t need to swim to get out of the pool.

The demolition contractor, Jolene Sutherland, who owns Starfish Demolition and Services, has donated one of the old slides to a children’s summer camp.

“I have a motto,” Sutherland says. “If we can reuse and recycle, we do that.”