Maple Ridge Leisure Centre will be renovated.

Maple Ridge Leisure Centre will be renovated.

Plan to pay for new Maple Ridge fields, Leisure Centre

Council delays Albion community centre two weeks.

Two new all-weather sports fields at Thomas Haney secondary, along with renovations to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre will be built and paid for first, council decided Tuesday.

Then in a few weeks, Maple Ridge council may add the $10-million Albion community centre to the list, once the mayor talks with the YMCA or YWCA to see if either is willing to partner in the community centre’s operation.

As for an additional ice rink at Planet Ice, that’s going to have to wait for more detailed staff report.

The council vote tells staff to start the borrowing process for the projects, and follows up a decision from a few weeks ago to focus on smaller projects and leave the larger recreation items, such as a $70-million aquatic centre or $40-million civic and cultural centre, for a later time.

“I see the fields as something we’ve got money in the bank for now,” said Coun. Gordy Robson.

He added that Maple Ridge should first hear from the YMCA or YWCA to see if they would share costs for such a facility, which could reduce the total costs to the city.

“Because it’s so easy to spend other people’s money.”

Council also decided Tuesday to delay signing a contract for the design of the Albion community centre. The public has already reviewed designs for the centre and given its input to the project, that will also incorporate a new elementary school on 104th Avenue.

The all-weather fields at Thomas Haney secondary and the Albion community centre projects would cost about $10 million each.

One scenario is for the city to fund half of that through its savings accounts and borrow the other $10 million. That could work out to a $40 property tax increase.

The city will also need to borrow another $3 million to pay for the extra costs of renovating the leisure centre pool, which now also will cost about $10 million, double what it did about three years ago.

Council voted to just focus on the two new fields despite staff drawing up four scenarios for paying for both the fields and Albion community centre.

It’s not certain how much the city will have to borrow or use from its savings accounts for the fields, the Leisure Centre repairs and the Albion community centre, if council decides to add that, as well, said Coun. Bob Masse.

“Everyone’s in favour of it,” he added.

“We need the information first before deciding what that looks like,” said Coun. Corisa Bell, who supports seeking a partnership with the YMCA or YWCA.

“I see them as great community leaders, all across the province.”

The fields, community centre and ice rink are the only items the city is now considering, following a six-month public consultation in which it asked people to comment on building a $70-million aquatic centre, a $40-million civic and cultural centre and museum, as well as a covered, 5,000-seat sports stadium.

“The taxpayers were quite clear in the surveys we did, they do not want large borrowing for grandiose projects,” Robson said.

“I’m glad that we were able to reach concensus on this motion,” said Mayor Nicole Read.

Coun. Craig Speirs added later that he wants the Albion community centre to proceed, saying the public has already had its say on that project, via consultations from last year.

“I just think we need to do this.”

The other major big-ticket items haven’t been shelved, but are being worked on, he added.

“This plan is not a single-council plan. It’s a multiple-council plan.”

Two other all-weather fields, one at Merkley Park the other at Golden Ears elementary, will be funded separately.