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Muddy waters over new outdoor pool in Maple Ridge

Project left off list of rec projects to be decided in the new year
(THE NEWS/files) A new outdoor pool is not yet certain in Maple Ridge.

Maple Ridge council approved, on Tuesday, the list of new recreation facilities that it will put to the public in the new year, and a new outdoor pool isn’t on it.

The outdoor pool was taken off the list because of uncertainties about the cost of the project.

And it’s still not certain whether a new outdoor pool ever will be built beside Thomas Haney secondary.

“But we’ll see,” Mayor Nicole Read said.

“It’s got a big price tag. Where’s the money going to come from?”

Costs have risen from $6 million to a possible $14 million and council is split on the issue, with Couns. Gordy Robson and Craig Speirs opposing it.

Robson initially supported an outdoor pool, but the project has now become too expensive, he said.

Read said if money for a new outdoor pool isn’t approved for borrowing by the public, where will that money come from?

It’s possible the city could hold another alternative approval process, by which 10 per cent of the population has to oppose borrowing for a new outdoor pool, in order to force its reconsideration.

“I really don’t know where that leaves us,” Read said. “We’ll have more of an understanding of costs in the next little while. That may help.”

Clarity of costs for an outdoor pool is the major issue, she added.

Council, this summer, added an outdoor pool to a previous list of new recreation projects, which includes an ice rink, all-weather sports fields, and the Albion community centre.

A rough concept for a 25-metre outdoor pool was created for the Thomas Haney site on 232nd Street, next to the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club.

Earlier this year, a majority of council rejected putting a $70-million aquatic centre among the list for rec projects, but consultation for such a facility in the future is about to begin.

Council looked at an outdoor pool as a way to alleviate the absence of pool time next year when the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre closes for major renovations. Those are supposed to be begin in March after being delayed several times and requiring the re-issuing of a request for proposals for the project.

Pitt Meadows is also considering an outdoor pool, a modular Myrtha competition pool used for the 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships, priced at about $6 million.

That is the pool that Haney Neptunes Aquatic Club president Jim Baxter earlier proposed to Maple Ridge.

Baxter said the project he proposed for Maple Ridge could have been ready by the summer, for less than $14 million.

“For what you’re getting, that’s a lot of money.”

But he’d welcome any kind of outdoor pool. Such facilities can be used by both public, leisure swimmers, as well competitive clubs.

But now, with the Leisure Centre about to close for renos, he said it’s possible two summers will pass before swimmers can get back into a pool in Maple Ridge.

“We’re pretty well the only community from Vancouver to Hope that doesn’t have 25-metre, outdoor pools.”

His club has its 60th anniversary coming up in 2018.

“We’re looking at having some sort of celebration, but a swim meet won’t be part of that because we don’t have a pool.”

A new outdoor pool is not yet certain in Maple Ridge. (THE NEWS/files)