Maple Ridge Leisure Centre needs $5-million upgrade

Pipes are leaking, filters, mechanical need to be repaired

It was a showcase three decades ago, but now the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is leaking water and staff don’t know where it’s going, only that it needs to be stopped.

Otherwise, with water leaking from the pipes beneath the swimming pool decks, the ground could become soaked and the pool could weaken.

That problem can be fixed as part of $5.5-million refit and repair, if council gives the go ahead next week to start design work.

“Mostly, what we’re talking about is under the pool deck, mechanical, pool filtration, plumbing,” said parks and recreation general manager Kelly Swift.

The problems were listed in July and on Monday staff will sketch out a work and design plan to fix that, among other problems at the centre.

In addition to leaky pipes, filtration and mechanical systems need work.

For example, the 35-year-old filters that keep the pool water clean can’t keep up with the number of people using the pool. And when they break down, replacement parts have to be custom made, which is costly.

When it comes to sanitizing the water, a new treatment system is needed, instead of the chlorine gas used now, which has leaked and resulted in evacuations of the pool.

Once the pipes are repaired and the leakage of “significant volumes of treated, heated and chlorinated water” is stopped, energy costs will be saved.

No timeline has been set for the renovations, which will require the pools to shut down so the decks can be dug up and pipes replaced.

When it reopens, people will see more wheelchair ramps into the pools so they’re accessible for people of all abilities. New decks will also be part of the renovations, if approved.

“There will be significant efficiencies as a result of these changes,” said Swift.

A new chlorine water treatment system will use ultraviolet light along with either liquid chlorine or chlorine pucks, instead of the chlorine gas system currently in place.

In July 2013, the pool was evacuated because of a chlorine leak, the fourth such leak in three years.

The cost of the upgrade is part of the financial plan and won’t require any tax increases. Reserve funds, such as the facility maintenance reserve, will pay for the work.

Council will see the details Monday that will itemize the work required.

Upgrading an existing pool is cheaper and produces less greenhouse gases than tearing it down and starting over, said Mayor Ernie Daykin.

“We’ve got a great asset in the middle of downtown. It’s well used. People can walk to it,” Daykin added.

The centre took a hit earlier this year when drop-in and membership revenues decreased by six per cent, following the opening of Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness.

Parks and recreation general manager Kelly Swift said revenue projections have been reduced slightly to reflect the increased competition.

“We’re going to meet our budget expectations for revenue, but it is slightly lower than it was last year.”

When the Leisure Centre was built in 1980, it was state of the art and B.C.’s first leisure aquatic facility.

“In the long term, I don’t think we’ll have an issue. New users are coming to the facility all the time,” Swift said.

“It’s really the community’s premier facility and it’s well used by the community. We’re hoping to get another 35 years out of it to keep it going and get lots more years out of that building.”