Maple Ridge Leisure Centre undergoing refit.

Maple Ridge Leisure Centre undergoing refit.

Maple Ridge council considers outdoor pool

Report on its way after suggestion by swim club

Maple Ridge could ease its pool predicament by building an outdoor facililty for use during warmer months.

The idea came up at council’s workshop meeting Tuesday following a suggestion by a local swim club member.

“The 10-lane pool that’s available would make our club very happy,” said Coun. Gordy Robson, explaining that a company in Ontario has a used pool that could be moved to Maple Ridge, then would be assembled here.

Such a facility would allow clubs to keep operating while the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre undergoes its $7-million renovation this fall.

An outdoor swimming pool isn’t on the city’s recreation infrastructure upgrade list, but it’s a project that came up as part of the consultation process, which wrapped up in March.

Council agreed to ask staff for more information, but Coun. Kiersten Duncan opposed that and wanted council to stay focused on the current list of recreation projects, such as a new indoor pool, new ice rinks, community centres and a museum.

“We’ve already got so many projects on the table. I think it would be better use of our time to focus on those,” Duncan said.

Council, on Tuesday, also had its first look at the results of the public surveys into the city’s proposed new recreation facilities, gathered the past six months via e-mail, mail-in surveys and workshops.

But the rough data was presented in Powerpoint, and council wanted to wait for the complete, printed report before making any decisions.

Meanwhile, council has told rec staff to move ahead with the plan to build four synthetic sports fields, hopefully by the end of the year.

Community consultation will start on building artificial turf fields, two at Thomas Haney secondary and another at Golden Ears elementary.

Cost for the new fields will ring in at $10 million for the two new fields at Thomas Haney and another $3 million for Golden Ears. The latter amount will be redirected from artificial fields that had been proposed for Albion fairgrounds, a site later ruled out by council because of parking issues.

The three artificial fields “will provide an opportunity for a tournament venue within the town centre,” said Valoree Richmond, manager of parks, planning and operations.

Funding approval for the Thomas Haney fields will go to council later. Construction on another artificial turf field at Merkley Park will begin this summer.

Richmond said there’s enough room for at Golden Ears elementary for full-size artificial field.

Coun. Tyler Shymkiw said two general sentiments from the public feedback on the recreation plans so far seem to be that people want playing fields and they want existing recreation facilities to be used or improved, where possible.

In the mail-in survey, which drew 508 responses, residents were asked if they wanted to pay for the new facilities with property taxes increases of one per cent a year, over 15 years, or pay a higher increase, of 1.5 per cent a year, over nine years.

Under the 15-year scenario, taxes on a $550,000 home would increase by $19 a year, with those increases cumulative, meaning that in the second year, taxpayers would be paying $38 a year, and so on.

Under the nine-year scenario, taxpayers would pay another $28.50 the first year, $57 more in taxes the second year, with the increase growing every year by $28.50 a year, for nine years.

Residents were also asked if they wanted to scale back costs or not build anything and have no tax increase at all.

A total of 269 of 508 people supported either one of the tax increase scenarios, while another 121 supported a smaller increase. Only 127 of 508 said nothing should be built, if it meant a tax increase.

Council will ultimately decide what projects it will build, over what period of time and get voters consent for any tax increase.

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