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Plans resurface for an outdoor pool in Brussels

10:43 27/08/2020

Brussels, unlike just about all other European cities, has not had an outdoor swimming pool since the 1970s.

This must change, according to Ecolo/Green party’s Benoît Hellings, responsible for sport at the City of Brussels. “With systematic periods of heat, we must guarantee access to water for everyone,” he told Le Soir.

Four sites are being considered. Three are at Neder-Over-Heembeek and the fourth is next to Laeken’s American Theatre, minutes away from Heysel.

Hellings said that these areas are easily accessible by public transport and big enough to fulfill the project’s aims: the creation of a 50 by 20-metre pool with a natural filtration system: “We want a natural water pool without using chemicals to keep the water clean,” he said.

The four proposals will be discussed with the Brussels regional minister Bernard Clerfayt, in charge of financing sports facilities, and Pascal Smet, who would grant the permit to build the pool. The big question is finance. The cost is estimated between €1.5 and €4 million, depending on the size and extra facilities planned for the pool.

Those hoping however for a new Océade, Heysel’s water park that finally closed in September 2018, will be disappointed. “We will not be making another aquatic park,” Hellings added, explaining the pool must be accessible to everyone – competitive swimmers and families – and at a reasonable price. Océade was popular but expensive at €20 an entry.

Hellings hopes that the new open-air pool will welcome its first swimmers in 2024. Filling a huge gap in Brussels’ sporting and entertainment sector, it is likely to succeed. Its predecessor, Evere’s swimming pool and Solarium off the Rue de Genève, welcomed some 3,200 swimmers on 12 June during the last major heatwave of 1976.

But two years later, this 1930s gem closed, following the fate of the Daring at Molenbeek and smaller outdoor pools at Anderlecht and Saint-Gilles.

Written by Liz Newmark