‘Closing pool a year best option’ Maple Ridge council hears

Leisure Centre staff would be laid off while costly repairs made to 30-year-old building

Closing the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre pool for only a year is the best-case scenario regarding renovations, council heard Monday.

Director of parks and facilities David Boag delivered a report to council that recommended awarding a contract for the pool upgrades and renovations for $4.8 million.

All three bidders said they would have to close the pool for about a year.

“Is there any way we could shave some time off of this,” asked Coun. Craig Speirs.

“I believe this is the best-case scenario timeline, not the worst,” Boag said.

Coun. Gordy Robson noted it is not unusual for projects to take longer than contractors estimate.

“I’m wondering if this could slide into a 14- or 16-month closure,” he said.

Mayor Nicole Read was concerned about pool personnel.

“A closure of this length of time would necessitate the layoff of all of the aquatic staff,” Boag said.

“I can’t even go there. I am so angry right now, and it’s not anybody here, “ said Read.

Council plans a special meeting, possibly this week, to get some answers to a long list of questions.

“This whole thing is a bit of a gut kick,” Shymkiw said after Boag’s report.

It includes an alternative to postpone the work until a second pool is built in Maple Ridge.

Councillors could consider delaying the repair work at the Leisure Centre until the city can build a new pool.

Borrowing $110 million for recreation facilities was a topic raised during the past week’s budget process.

“I made that suggestion knowing that if we started tomorrow to do a design/build, realistically you could be five years before you have a new facility,” Boag told council.

Also, there are no guarantees that there would not be a closure of the existing pool at some point.

Robson asked staff to get a price to “patch” this pool and keep it in business for another three years.

“I don’t think anybody has taken five years to build a pool,” he said, adding the city could build a new one in three.

The Leisure Centre pool plumbing is a problem, and the main tank is losing 6,800 litres a day, the hot pool another 1,800 litres a day.

Staff is also concerned that leaking water could damage the facility.

The mechanical systems – pumps, motors and electrical – are 35 years old, and are to be replaced in the renovations.

Read wants some accountability for council being surprised by a one-year closure, after having already spent $435,000 on design work with Shape Architecture.

“We are absolutely accountable to the public – we’re asking how can we possibly be here? How can we be here, as a city, on the verge of having to shut down for an entire year our only aquatic facility? I think the public is going to want to know the same thing. We have a duty to them to provide some accountability and to learn some lessons so that we can make sure this does not happen again,” she said.

“We immediately need to come up with some solutions, because what is being told to us is that we’re going to have to shut down our only swimming pool for an entire year, lay off our staff, and move all our user groups to other cities, and our residents to other cities. That’s unacceptable to me.”

 

 

 

 

 

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