At long last, Maple Ridge residents got to see their old pool made new again in 2020, but the issue of recreation facilities will not be vanishing with the turn of the calendar.
Maple Ridge Leisure Centre pool held a grand reopening event on Feb. 23 with free admission.
“I know it was a long journey,” said Mayor Mike Morden.
That done, he and the rest of city council are about to embark on a new journey, as council is already considering another pool among recreation facilities still needed.
The “long journey” saw the pool opening delayed twice. The pool area had first closed on March 26, 2018. The renovations took two years, and cost $12 million.
Unfortunately for the aquatically inclined, the revamped pool was not open long.
By March, it had been ordered closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and did not reopen until Sept. 28.
In 2018, the city got taxpayer approval to borrow $49.5 million to build a new Albion Community Centre, two near all-weather fields at Thomas Haney Secondary, a new rink at Planet Ice and other smaller projects.
In May of 2020, a new field house was completed at Telosky Stadium, completing the restoration of the historic local field complex that had begun in October of 2018. The $10 million project developed the site for two grass fields while adding two more all-weather playing fields to a city inventory that included new synthetic fields at Golden Ears elementary and Maple Ridge secondary. The latter two opened in 2018, so in two years the city created four new all-weather playing fields. Unfortunatley, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fields opened without sports teams being allowed to use them.
Despite all of the new work, council learned in November that user groups are still seeing gaps in Maple Ridge’s recreation infrastructure, according to an analysis done by staff. Their work involved a survey of more than 40 sports organizations, and more than half said there are not enough facilities to meet the current needs of their sport. Two-thirds said there are not enough to meeting needs for the next 10 years.
More ice during prime time, competition pool facilities, covered or indoor boxes for lacrosse, ball diamonds and sports courts for squash and volleyball were identified as lacking. Council members spoke in favour of doing more.
This year will see new plans.
During the recent 2021 financial plan review, council approved the development of an updated Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, noted Valoree Richmond, director of parks and facilities.
She said part of this new plan will incorporate the findings from the gap analysis to develop recommendations on how the city will meet the recreational needs for the community. The specific timing of the plan development will emerge in 2021 as the project scope comes before council for approval.
There will be an opportunity for council to look at short-term priorities during this time, as staff provide more information on future recreation infrastructure considerations and costs to council.