Council is looking a second time at outdoor swimming pool

Council is looking a second time at outdoor swimming pool

Outdoor pool up for second look

Maple Ridge reconsiders scouting for a location

Maple Ridge council’s decision not to build an indoor swimming pool has stirred up a hornet’s nest on Facebook.

“Another decision that I don’t understand. How can they say no to a new pool !!!!” writes Kelly Jones.

She’s then told by Maple Ridge Council Watch moderator Katherine Wagner that the city can’t afford it.

“Sorry, but that pool is so old it’s no wonder half this town goes elsewhere, shopping etc.”

“This is such backward thinking! Once again this city disapoints me but doesn’t surprise me,” says Sharon Rooney in the same discussion.

Council last week rejected building an indoor swimming pool/aquatic centre, location unknown, that would have had one sheet of ice, and would have cost about $70 million.

It also said no to a civic and cultural centre/museum that would have cost about $40 million and instead opted to build two new artificial sports fields at Thomas Haney, a new Albion community hall as well as build a new arena at Planet Ice, plus other smaller projects.

Coun. Craig Speirs, along with Mayor Nicole Read and Coun. Kiersten Duncan voted for the pool while Couns. Gordy Robson, Corisa Bell, Tyler Shymkiw and Bob Masse voted against.

“I think we need to build this community as we go forward. If we don’t do something now (with low interest rates) we’ll never be able to do it,” Speirs said.

He said the pool should have been part of the voting process that takes place later this year by which taxpayers could reject or approve borrowing money for individual projects.

“I don’t know why the members of public don’t trust the public to make a decision. I think they turned their backs on the voters.”

Speirs said it was within the city’s ability to borrow and pay for such a project. One scenario said property taxes on an average home would jump by $100 a year, over an eight-year time period.

Coun. Gordy Robson said council’s decision was based on public feedback during the consultation process. “We’re reacting to what people told us. The people told us they didn’t want big, grandiose projects. They wanted our existing facilities enlarged so that all the kids could get into sports. And they want that done right now.”

The city won’t have to borrow until 2021 when taxes will go up .35 per cent, half the .6 per cent proposed in the above scenario. “We think it’s a very doable, it’s very affordable and it’s the way to get the most kids into sport facilities, the quickest.”

City council is also having another vote on its previous decision not to look at an outdoor pool. That was to come back to council Tuesday, and Robson expected most on council would support staff trying to find a suitable location. Staff have said that an outdoor pool could cost about $6 million. If land had to be bought, that could add another $12 million.

Robson said there is enough room at Hammond Community Centre to replace the existing outdoor pool with an eight-lane, 25-metre second-hand portable swimming pool previously used for a competitive swimming event in Windsor, Ont.

Renovations planned for the existing change rooms and washrooms could be adapted to suit a new swimming pool, he added. A roof could be added to extend use throughout the year.

Removing the basketball court, which he said isn’t heavily used, and other nearby parking could produce 200 parking stalls, he added.

Langley township is building a six-lane covered, outdoor pool in Aldergrove, that will open in June 2018, and which will be open during the winter.

The township received a $10-million grant from the federal Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component.