The Haney Neptunes are ready to jump ship.
If a new pool is built in Pitt Meadows, the swim club that has been based at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre would be happy to make it the organization’s new base.
Pitt Meadows council is considering the purchase of a Myrtha pool, which has been used at the 2016 World FINA Swimming Championships in Winnipeg, and is available for a relative bargain price.
“We would welcome it with open arms,” said club spokesman Jim Baxter, who has already made contact with Pitt Meadows city hall.
“I don’t think they’re going to build a new pool in Maple Ridge anytime soon,” he added, noting that borrowing for a proposed outdoor pool has been removed from the list of projects in Maple Ridge.
Baxter worries that his club, which is leaking membership due to the uncertainty of the pool situation, could be left high and dry for up to two summers.
Pool renovations would take approximately 14 months.
With the start of that put off until March, he is worried any significant delays could mean two summers of swimming missed in Maple Ridge.
Baxter said the two cities should be working together on pool facilities, and it is the intention of Pitt Meadows council to ask Maple Ridge for a joint planning process.
“It’s early days yet,” cautioned Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker, and he said the city is first going through a stakeholder engagement process to see if the Myrtha pool would be welcomed.
He noted the Myrtha pool would have a removable floor to create a shallow end, and is more than just a competition pool. That said, he would welcome having the Neptunes as a regular tenant and user group.
The key is going to be cost.
Becker said the typical comment he hears about a pool proposal is: “It would be nice, but how much?”
Grants from federal and provincial governments would be key in keeping tax bills down, but the availability of those grants is also a question being explored by city hall staff.
Baxter said the Myrtha pool would offer a standard 25 meter competition pool with 10 lanes. For comparison, the club can only get three lanes at the Hammond pool, and it is not a standard 25 meters.
“It would be wonderful,” he said. “As a club, we can’t grow. We have a very limited area we can train in.”
He said the club is hovering around 130 swimmers in competitive swimming, water polo and synchro programs, but in the past it has been at the range of 200 swimmers and a waiting list.
“There’s a downturn at the moment,” he said, and it comes just as the club is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
“We’ve already had some families that have gone to other clubs. They don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Baxter said his club leaving the Leisure Centre would create more opportunities for other groups and programs to get in there, and said right now the facility is “maxed out.” The Neptunes are there at 5:30 a.m. for practices during some parts of the season, and he says that is too early for kids. The Seahorses swim club, which competes over a winter season, also trains at the facility.
“With the size of our two communities, we’re very under served in the aquatic community.”