Maple Ridge pool could close for a year

Timeline for $5.5 million repairs coming soon.

The Maple Ridge Leisure Centre’s pool operations may need to close for a year as part of the $5.5 million refit and repair.

Mayor Nicole Read is not pleased with that prospect, saying a city of 80,000 people should not be without a pool for that long.

“We shouldn’t be in a position where we have to completely close our aquatic facility,” she said. “That’s a big concern for council.”

Read said council will review a detailed report about the downtime – including the proposed closure dates – from recreation staff next week.

She has a lot of questions.

“Why are we in this position, and what can we do to not go there?”

Read said the city has known since 2010 that it would need to upgrade the pool, which was built in 1980.

Her comments follow an announcement that the city is considering borrowing $110 million for parks and recreation facilities, as part of this week’s budget discussions.

There is water leaking beneath the swimming pool decks at the Leisure Centre, and the ground could become soaked, weakening the structure of the pool.

The pool deck, as well as filtration, plumbing and mechanical systems would all be replaced or repaired. The 35-year-old filters that keep the water clean can’t keep up with the number of people using the pool. 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 forced evacuations of the pool building.

Once all the repairs are done, energy costs will be reduced, said staff.

The cost of the pool upgrade is part of the financial plan and won’t require any tax increases. Reserve funds will pay for the work.

Staff has always reported that the pool would have to be closed for the renovations, but council is hearing about the one-year closure for the first time.

Discussions of building a second pool at a different site were raised in March. In July, the city spoke with the YMCA about partnering in a new pool.

User groups are not yet aware of the lengthy closure. Haney Seahorses Swim Club coach David Geary said he has been getting a lot questions about the potential closure lately.

“We have known for quite some time that there would be a retrofit of the pool,” he said. “They involved us slightly in the brainstorming for the renovations. However, they have told us all that they wouldn’t be able to give us any indication as to the scope or timelines of the shutdown until it had been voted upon at council.”