At this time, we are heartbroken to announce that the Board of Directors has made the extremely hard decision that it is not feasible to open for the 2020 season. The unanimous decision was not taken lightly and is multi-faceted, primarily based on an inability to operate with a balanced budget. We are a non-profit organization, and based on the results of our member survey, the sufficient anticipated revenue for our $90K operating expenses needed for the summer will not be reached. Opening this season would require the pool to post a substantial financial loss. This monetary loss would then impact the ability of the organization to open for future seasons.
Heights is owned by the City of Beaconsfield but operates as a non-profit, funded by the community of members. All operating costs for the summer must be paid through revenue, largely generated through membership fees and supplemented by additional sources of income, such as sponsorships, social events, the canteen, government grants and charitable contributions. This year, we received 75% less in government grants, will have no supplemental sources of income and membership revenue was projected to be far less than 50% of a typical summer. While there will still be expenses to keep the pool insured and safe through the closure, these expenses are substantially less than the projected loss with opening and much more money would have had to be spent on cleaning products, PPE equipment etc. The city of Beaconsfield has offered some financial assistance but it is not enough to ensure financial viability for this season.
The results of the member survey clearly spoke to the love our members have for our community and their overwhelming interest in the programs we typically offer. Based on current guidelines and recommendations from the City, we could only offer short, timed swims on a reservation basis. There is currently no possibility of coaching from the side of the deck, and as such, no programs or swimming lessons could be offered. We would be limited in the maximum number of swimmers and people on deck for every time period, making it difficult to justify charging membership fees when we cannot guarantee access to the pool. The risk of opening for a reduced access summer does not outweigh the reward of maintaining the financial viability of our beloved community organization for future years.
Heights would not be the happy, fun place we all love to spend our summers - lifeguards would not be in the pool playing with the kids, there would be no beautiful chalk drawings adorning the deck and the sense of community feel would be exceptionally diminished. There could be no social events and limited socialization at the pool as swimmers and those on deck would be restricted to their reserved zones for the maintenance of physical distancing. We would not be able to open our beloved canteen (no grilled cheese!!) and there would be no access to the changing rooms.
As disappointed as we are to cancel the summer season and be unable to have our amazing staff working for Heights, we also feel an obligation to provide a safe work environment. These restrictions would require the staff to work in set shifts, maintain social distancing and wear masks within the guard shack, ensure constant cleanliness and sanitation, and learn and safely implement new lifesaving and first-aid protocols. This in itself is a monumental task to ask of our young staff, and is also a huge burden on the volunteer board of directors.
During our discussions, one board member mentioned if we had a crystal ball to predict the guidelines in place in July and August, it would afford us some further insight on how the summer could progress. None of us have that crystal ball. What we do have in hand is a large projected deficit, a 70-page set of guidelines, a staff and membership that we want to keep safe, and a community organization we want to protect moving forward. The role of the Board of Directors is not only to manage the present, but also to plan for the future. With an eye to future amazing seasons at Heights, we see no other option than to re-open in 2021, in line with pools in Kirkland, Pierrefonds and other Montreal municipalities.
We wish you a safe and happy summer and please know your safety is of the utmost importance to us. We cannot wait to see you all back in 2021!