No gambling on environment

New Maple Ridge Community Gaming Centre follows common sense environmental construction

Andy LaCroix

Maple Ridge’s new community gaming centre isn’t intended to be a glitzy showpiece, with no expense spared on how building green can save the world.

What it does, though, is make better use of what was a vacant lot at 227th Street and Lougheed Highway, the site of a former cement plant.

“It’s really what’s classified as a brownfield site,” explained Terrance Doyle, vice-president of planning and construction with Great Canadian Gaming Corp.

“These brown-field sites are really difficult to work with. When you can get one and make it work, it’s a benefit to everybody.”

Doyle said after the cement plant left, the site became a dumping ground, contaminating soil and requiring the removal of about 20,000 cubic metres of dirt. In return, another 100,000 cubic metres were brought back on to the site.

“We came up with a plan … to remediate the site and remove all the bad fill.”

“It was quite a civil engineering exercise.”

Once the Ministry of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans Canada gave the OK (the project includes burying one non-fish-bearing stream and replacing it with a more viable creek elsewhere on the site), construction started last fall.

Now the 28,000-sq.-ft building is a few months away from opening, with interior finishings being installed, security being wired in, ready for 175 slot machines and 200 bingo tables. When that happens, the gaming centre in the old Haney Bingo Plex on 224th Street will close.

While the gaming centre will bring in a lot green, it should also be green in many ways.

A green roof, at about a $100,000 cost, will cover parts of the building. That entails building a drainage system and creating a space where 20 centimetres of top soil can be dumped, in which to grow native shrubs and grasses.

The soil and plants above will serve as insulation, much like a sod home from the old days, and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Doyle admits the gaming centre’s green roof is partly for decorative purposes. Such features are more valuable in dense downtown areas covered in asphalt, compared to leafy Maple Ridge. But the sections that are covered by the soil and plants will help with energy costs.

Covering the entire building, with its large open spaces below, would have been too expensive, Doyle explains.

“We’re trying to show other developers and the district, they can do this in a responsible way and still hit your targets, from a cost point of view, and still do it in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Low-flow toilets and water fixtures minimize water use in the building, while energy-efficient window glass will reduce heating and cooling costs, with strategically placed shades and louvres cutting down on summer heat, but allowing sunshine during the winter. An automated heating-ventilation and air-conditioning system that senses carbon dioxide and temperatures will turn on systems only when needed, while a “thermal break” provides a gap between the interior wall and the insulated concrete exterior wall, further reducing costs.

The features should produce overall energy savings of 10 per cent.

As energy prices climb, the payback and money saved will only grow over the years.

Although it hasn’t filed a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification application because of time limits, Great Canadian figures the building would meet the silver standard for the rating system.

“We’re just trying to use a common sense approach and do what’s right,” Doyle said.

Site and soil conditions aren’t suitable for geothermal, he added.

The eco approach continues outside, where several features minimize the amount of water that will rush into the storm sewer system during Maple Ridge’s ‘10-month-long’ rainy season.

Water from the roof and the 220-stall parking lot will be diverted into rain gardens, where it can percolate into the soil before flowing into the storm sewer system.

“It’s a much more controlled way of getting water into the storm system.”

Doyle figures such steps will soon be incorporated into most city bylaws and points out they’re not expensive or difficult.

Just some early coordination between the engineer and landscape architect is required.

“There’s really no additional cost.”

Gaming centre general manager Andy LaCroix said Great Canadian wants the centre to be a community place, where people can stop in for a meal, a drink or to hear local entertainment in the 130-seat restaurant/bar.

“It’s certainly something we think will be a nice addition to the community.

“We want it to be a hub of activity.”

A board room and meeting room are included on the second storey of the building.

Overall, the building cost should ring in at $10 million, with another $3-million for site work and remediation.

The requirement by the district for Great Canadian to build the road, extending 227th Street to Lougheed Highway, added another $4 million to the cost.

“There was quite a bit of work done from a biodiversity point of view,” said Maple Ridge public works manager Frank Quinn.

Construction of 227th Street will fit in with the district’s renovation of the Lougheed Highway streetscape from 226th to 228th Street. That work will see a facelift applied to the downtown thoroughfare so that it resembles what was done a few years ago along 224th Street.

“I think it’s going to look super by the time it’s all finished, considering what was there before,” Quinn said.

“We’re pretty excited about it.”

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