Maple Ridge Leisure Centre pool reno almost underway

Total budget of $9 million includes new lobby, changerooms

The total budget for the year-long re-do of the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is ringing in at an even $9 million.

That’s the all-in estimated cost that includes a $3-million renovation to the changerooms and lobby and $6 million for replacing the electrical, filtration, chlorination and piping systems for the two pools in the 37-year-old facility.

“The new pools are going to look incredible,” said city facilities manager Michael Millward.

Renovations include a brand-new leisure pool that includes a graduated, beach-type entry as well as a lazy river part where people can float on inner tubes.

There will also be a new hot tub, with wheelchair access, while a garage-door opening will allow access to the outdoor deck.

The new lobby will be more open and instead of having men and women’s changerooms, there will be a universal change area with 25 cubicles in three different sizes, with showers, allowing people and families to change in privacy.

The renos will also see a switch from chlorine gas to liquid chlorine and ultraviolet light for disinfecting the water. Meanwhile, the mechanical room will remain underground while an outbuilding will be removed. The renovations will allow any future expansion of the underground parking or new construction to the west of the leisure centre.

The entire cost for the project will be paid for from the city’s savings accounts, said financial general manager Paul Gill. That means borrowing won’t be required for the project.

The decision to improve the lobby and changerooms was made after a feasibility study and added on to the initial plan to improve the pool and piping system.

Council OK’d Tuesday staff starting the bidding process, inviting contractors to bid on the project. Those bids and the awarding of a contract with a final price tag, should be back at council by October or November.

Actual construction, which involves a year-long shut down, could start late this year, or early next year.

Previously, in a separate process, council rejected building a new, $70-million aquatic centre but is still investigating whether to build a new, larger competitive outdoor pool at Hammond Community Centre, to replace the existing, old pool.

Council had also considered building a civic and cultural centre and museum to the west of the leisure centre, but that also was rejected earlier in July by council.

The city earlier this year decided to create a policy to ensure transgendered people get access to city facilities after a complaint this spring from a mom who saw a man, who identified as female, in the woman’s changeroom.

That policy is still in process, however the universal changerooms, will address such issues by providing all with private changing space.

Recreation health and wellness manager Christa Balatti said the city has consulted LGBTQ groups and has ensured the renovations to the changerooms follows recent legal developments.

“We really want to provide a safe, inclusive facility,” Balatti said.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan said staff have done an excellent job reconfiguring the change rooms. “I think it’s a pretty exciting proposal,” she said of the renovations.

Parliament recently changed the Canadian Human Rights Act to ensure gender identity and expression cannot be causes of discrimination.

The city has already redesignated a man and woman’s washroom as inclusive washrooms while two private family changerooms are also universal.

Last year, the provincial government added gender identity as protected under the B.C. Human Rights Code.

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