Valoree Richmond, acting director of parks and facilities, at third day of opening of renovations. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

People checking out Maple Ridge Leisure Centre renos

Monday was first day, grand opening Feb. 23

The pools are full, the fountains are flowing and the newly renovated Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is gearing up for its grand opening Feb. 23.

The facility opened to the public Monday in what was called a soft opening, as the competition pool, steam room and sauna remain to be opened, pending last-minute tweaks and permitting.

But the new leisure pool which features a beach entry at one end and easy-to-climb stairs at the other was open, including the mini lazy river and the water fall, which was a component of the centre before renovations, though it didn’t operate, said Valoree Richmond, acting director of parks and facilities.

On its third day of opening, after two years and $12 million worth of renovations, the renovated lobby was a busy place as people stopped in.

Eric McCombie has been a regular user of the pool before renovations and now is happy to get back to his three-times-a-week work outs in the pool.

Read more: Maple Ridge pool renovations pushed back until 2020

“It’s great. I’m happy to be back,” he said. He was at the leisure centre on opening day and added that he likes the accessibility features after suffering a stroke in 2012. After the stroke, going to the pool was a key part of his rehabilitation. Now, he’s going to try to get the stroke recovery group at the seniors centre to visit the leisure centre.

Asked if he thought Maple Ridge needed another acquatic centre and he said that everything that’s needed is at the existing leisure centre.

Josh Richardson also stopped by with his two young sons and said he’ll be back to sign up for swimming lessons. “It’s a beautiful facility.”

Richmond said that the teach pool and the competition pool were untouched as part of the renovations. However, a faulty valve has delayed opening of the competition pool, though it will be ready by grand opening on Feb. 23.

Aquafit classes are already underway but swimming lessons don’t start until Feb. 23.

The new hot tub features wheelchair accessibility while the water slide has also been refurbished. One benefit from the renovations is that the deck between all four pools is all on one level, while two big garage doors will allow access to the outdoor patio.

Read more: Maple Ridge’s indoor pool redo in final months

An entirely new mechanical and filtration system below the pool deck allows for real-time sampling and testing of the water in each pool, a process that must be done six times a day. The filtration system now uses liquid chlorine and ultraviolet light for cleaning the water instead of the previous chlorine gas.

A total of 24 change individual change rooms, most with showers, and including five family rooms, are part of the improvements, as well as noise baffles which replace the Smartie-type decorations that used to hang from the ceiling. About 40 new staff were hired, while another 20 returned, after being laid off during renovations.

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Christa Balatti, recreation manager, health and wellness, showing one of the individual change rooms, with shower. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

Real time monitoring of pH levels, chemistry and temperatures, saves having to manually take water samples. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

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