City council, now prepared to borrow up to $110 million for parks and recreation facilities, is considering a long list of projects that goes well beyond turf fields, ice sheets and a new pool.
Thursday, Maple Ridge council started prioritizing the needs of the city:
• two new community halls in Albion and Silver Valley;
• two new youth action parks for skateboarding and other wheeled activities in Silver Valley and Albion;
• a smaller and more affordable space for the performing arts, a theatre seating 100 to 150;
• a museum and archives, and it was noted that there are native artifacts that should be displayed, and that there is federal funding available for first nations archives;
• a field house – a large, indoor multi-sport facility that could be used for everything from riding events to archery;
• a downtown water park;
• slo-pitch ball diamonds, in a tournament centre arrangement;
• an Olympic-sized ice rink;
• a stadium to host both sporting events, such as track and field, and outdoor concerts.
Not all will be built. Council will next prioritize which projects are most important, at a subsequent planning meeting on Jan. 11.
City hall will need to get public approval to borrow for such projects.
“Whatever we come up with, it has to be a saleable package,” noted Coun. Gordy Robson. “This has got to be mouth-watering.”
The projects should be eligible to attract senior government funding, have a potential economic benefit by attracting visitors, and the city will have an eye on operating costs.
Originally, a youth action park was proposed for Albion, but Mayor Nicole Read, who is a Silver Valley resident, said her neighbourhood should not be forgotten, and all the amenities should not be earmarked for Albion.
“We need to be considering the whole community,” said Read. “Youth action parks have big bang for the buck.”
A proposed new aquatic centre has “shouldered itself to the front” of the line, said Coun. Craig Speirs, because of the leaking tanks at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.
The conversation of what to do with the existing Leisure Centre pools – retrofit or replace – is one that can now be had in about two years, he added.
The development of four new synthetic fields in the Albion area has been already discussed, and Coun. Robert Masse considered this one of the best investments, because children are increasing staying in organized soccer into their adulthood.
The projects council considered came from the recreation master plan. Although it was last updated in 2010, councillors felt the priorities identified in it are still relevant today.
The discussion intentionally steered away from specific geographic sites, but for the Jan. 11 meeting, staff will propose which amenities can be combined into the same building.
While council is considering a large number of potential projects, Read said artificial turf fields, an arena and a new aquatic centre should emerge as the priorities.
“It’s pretty clear to everyone where we’re behind.”
“Feedback on the [new] pool has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said.