Maple Ridge pool crunch eased by opening outdoor pool four months

Maple Ridge pool crunch eased by opening outdoor pool four months

Staff propose doubling the time for Hammond pool, as leisure centre renos begin in November

Maple Ridge swimmers will make do with a mix of swimming time borrowed from other cities and swimming outdoors in summer 2018 as the city prepares to close the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre in November for a year-long renovation.

City recreation staff presented a plan Monday that calls for opening the Hammond Outdoor Pool two extra months next year, May and June, in addition to July and August.

Doing so will give extra hours for swimming lessons, rec swimming and training time for the Haney Seahorses and the Haney Neptunes Aquatic Club.

More talk is needed, though, with the clubs, said recreation manager Christa Balatti.

More talk is also required with city council, once staff knows how much the city will have to pay to lease the swim time at pools in neighbouring cities, one of which is in Langley.

“Our neighbours have been very generous in terms of giving us some very good information to work off of,” Balatti said.

“While this option introduces an inconvenience of travel times, it does allow the clubs to continue with their training programs,” Balatti added in a report.

Putting a cover over the pool to ease the possible chilly weather won’t work because of costs.

Council told staff earlier to develop a plan to help swim clubs and the public get through more than a year without an indoor pool.

Maple Ridge has to close the deteriorating Leisure Centre pool in order to do extensive upgrades, involving piping, chlorine treatment, deck improvement and change rooms. Price for the makeover could be about $7 million.

However, work won’t begin until this November.

Balatti said there could also be an opportunity to extend the swimming season at Hammond Outdoor Pool, into September, weather permitting.

“If we opened it up, it would expand our ability to provide additional swim programming. It gives us an extra two months.”

Neptunes president Jim Baxter said previously that the Hammond pool is too small for training competitively. The Hammond Outdoor Pool is four lanes wide and 25 metres long, the same length as the leisure centre pool.

Part of the plan involves keeping as many of the 75 pool-related staff around as possible without resorting to layoffs, once the leisure centre pool closes.

Some of those layoffs can be reduced by reallocating staff to recreation software upgrades, supervising the extra months that Hammond Outdoor Pool will be open will keep and other internal job openings.

Council also voted Tuesday on awarding a contract of $185,845 to Shape Architecture for relocating the leisure centre pool’s mechanical system – to make room for underground parking and a plaza, if the city decides to build a civic and cultural centre, next to the leisure centre in Memorial Peace Park.

“They have made some design changes to make it more compatible should there be a building on the corner,” Coun. Gordy Robson said.

The civic and cultural centre is also part of the city’s multi-million dollar recreation plan now being studied.

The $185,845 contract with Shape Architecture also includes the costs of managing the bidding process to choose a contractor to do the pool renovations.

Maple Ridge already approved a contract of $479,772 to the same company to do a detailed design of the whole project in 2015.

Total cost for the entire reno project at that time was $5.5 million. However, council delayed the project while it considered building a brand new aquatic centre that could cost $70 million, as part of the recreation infastructure upgrade being considered by the city.

But Robson said it could be a decade before such a pool is built.

Council last year, then decided to proceed with the original reno of the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.

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