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Dangerous tiles slip into place

A couple of serious injuries have forced the City to replace tiles at the community centre pool. People have reported broken bones and bruises after slipping on the slick surface.

The expensive project is expected to get underway this summer.

Council approved the replacement at Monday night's meeting, after weighing out costs of doing that vs ongoing maintenance.

"It is a bit of an expensive fix, but there is a safety element to this," said Councillor Wes Hopkin. "And there is a return on this, not just safety, but financial."

The work, at a cost of $150,000, will be done on the three pool decks, the sauna and steam room floors, the change room and shower floors and the aquatics staff administration and work areas.

The tile in question is part of the pool area, which reopened along with the rest of the community centre in June of 2011, after a renovation and expansion of the facility.

The tiles, designed to be aesthetically pleasing, required additional operational maintenance costs, with the annual cost being over $79,000.

"The issue with the tiles was more from an expense related standpoint in order to maintain the required slip resistance on the pool area," said Chuck Loewen, the general manager for recreation and facilities. "And at the same time provide greater safety, security and enjoyment for our customers."

Loewen said there has been some falls that have resulted in injuries. He declined to comment further on the extent of those injuries.

The byproduct of having this work done will decrease the likelihood of people slipping and falling, he added.

As far as anyone suing the city for a fall at the pool, Loewen said they have nothing like that on their plate.

A man who fell at the facility a month ago told Castanet the tiles are too slick. He says he fell and broke his arm in several places. He now has pins and a steel rod in his arm from his wrist to his elbow. He says he is going in for more surgery this month to have the rod removed. He says he was the second person to have a serious injury after slipping on the tiles. The recently retired senior says he has not ruled out suing the City.

A Penticton woman who has used the community centre said she took a bad fall and was very sore afterwards. She claims to know of others who have taken falls.

Other pool users, coming and going on Tuesday, said the deck could be slippery at times.

One woman said she was happy to see the work being done.

"I think the city is erring on the side of caution, and I think that's a good thing," she said.

The centre's next step will be doing cost estimates and sending out requests for proposals for the tile and work.

In the meantime, some remedial work will be done in the change rooms, including cutting grooves into the tiles for slip resistance.

Loewen said they hope to have three quarters of the work done by the beginning of September, with the remainder to be done in 2015.

While most of the city council was supportive of the replacement project, Councillor John Vassilaki questioned how this could have happened in the first place.

During the construction there was a steering committee in place to provide oversight. That committee was also given advice by engineers, architects and other professionals.

"I'm dumbfounded. This tile is only three years old," said Vassilaki. "Why was it not picked up originally. We hired all these expensive professionals and it was not done right."

Mayor Garry Litke said the committee met with people working on the centre on a regular basis and there was considerable discussion on the tiles.

"To save money it was suggested we buy the tiles ourselves and we purchased them from Germany and then hired an installer," he said. "And we purchased tiles recommended by the designer of the community centre. You presume they would recommend the right materials."

If you have taken a fall at the community centre pool, please send your story to [email protected]

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