Maple Ridge recreation plans moving forward

The big questions are where will be the location for a new wellness centre and swimming pool and a 5,000-seat sports stadium and field.

The big questions are where will be the location for a new wellness centre and swimming pool in Maple Ridge and for a 5,000-seat sports stadium and field.

Those will be answered as the City of Maple Ridge talks to taxpayers about renewing recreation over the next several years.

Paul Fast, an architect, told council Monday that the new stadium, pegged at about $30 million, can’t be located in Albion flats because there’s not enough room for parking.

“That site cannot handle the parking requirements that would come with along with a stadium like that.”

For now, it’s a stand-alone project with the location to be determined.

People will start seeing the drawings for all the projects in the next few weeks. One includes converting the curling sheets at Planet Ice to a hockey rink, then building another arena beside it, with four more rinks. A lobby expansion would be part of the $25-million project.

Meanwhile, a new curling rink would be built as part of the wellness centre and swimming pool complex, which would include an eight-lane, 25-metre competition pool, as well as leisure pool, lazy river and hot tubs.

The complex would include a new curling rink, as well as fitness centre and track, with the benefit of having activities on the ground floor to create better public safety by having more people close to the parking lot.

“It’s something that is a beacon, is well-lit at night, draws people into the site …” Fast told council.

Jennifer Wilson, a consultant, is starting the public engagement process this month. It will involve a YouTube video, online surveys, public meetings, static displays and consultation with user groups. Focus groups will take place in January, as well as street surveys, followed by a draft report and open house summarizing the public’s feelings by February.

“Are you also going to test the public’s appetite for borrowing, as well?” asked Coun. Gordy Robson.

Wilson replied that project costs and the effect on property taxes of any borrowing required will be part of the information shared with the public.

Taxpayers will be asked to approve any borrowing and consequent tax increase through the alternative approval process, in which 10 per cent of voters have to vote no in order to reject the borrowing.

Operating and capital costs will be included.

Mayor Nicole Read liked the idea of her writing a letter to the public inviting people to get involved in the process.

“I’m excited to get this rolling.”

But Coun. Craig Speirs cautioned that not everything will be built at once and that it’s likely the less-expensive projects that will get done first.

“I think folks have to realize it’s a multi-year … and a multi-council process going forward.”

He expects other future councils to support the plan.

Council approved a motion asking for staff to report on location of sports fields together in order to create space for tournaments.

Planning director Christine Carter said staff are waiting for decisions on new rec facilities before completing the overall area plan for Albion flats.

Other projects being considered: a new Albion Neighbourhood Learning Centre, which would be part of a new school built on 104th Avenue.

Consultation has already taken place on that project, which could cost up to $10 million

A civic and cultural centre west of the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is also being considered. The two-storey structure would include space for university programs, a youth wellness centre, and major upgrades to the leisure centre.

Construction costs could be $40 million. Additional storeys above could be built above for space for seniors housing or a hotel.

More projects:

  • a new dock, and expanded building and a new boat house for the Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club in Whonnock;
  • new outdoor pavilion in Silver Valley to create a gathering space for residents;
  • expansion and renovation of Hammond Community Hall, costing about $2.5 million;
  • two new artificial fields, with covered seating, at Albion Sports Complex, costing about $5 million;
  • addition of bleachers and washrooms to Maple Ridge secondary track area.