Just days after hearing the Leisure Centre pool would have to close for a year, the contractor bidding on the renovations came up with a plan to keep part of it open for the duration.
But Maple Ridge council decided Thursday to scrap those plans and is now considering patching up the leaking pool until it can build a new one, or two.
Monday, director of parks and facilities David Boag told council the pool would have to be closed for 12 months.
His report still recommended that the $4.8 million contract for reconstruction of the pool and its mechanical and filtration systems be award to Mierau Contractors Lt. With contingencies, the project is budgeted for approximately $5.3 million.
Mayor Nicole Read and other council members said the need to close the city’s only aquatic centre for a year came as a shock, and was not acceptable.
At a council meeting Tuesday, she read a prepared statement that said, in part:
“I, and other members of council, have heard from the user groups of the facilities – the swim clubs and even the casual users, that the closure of the club will create hardship for them,” she said. “A one-year closure may seem like a small period of time when measured against the 140-year history of the city, but one year is a long time in the life a 12-year-old who is trying to become an elite swimmer to get an athletic scholarship to university. One year in the life of a three-year-old who needs to learn how to swim while they are young is a very long time.
“As the parent of two young boys, I know, first hand, that one year is a huge period of time.”
Council set a special workshop for Thursday to deal with the issue.
By then, Boag had met with the contractors and they came up with a revised construction schedule that would not result in complete closure of the facility.
Still, Boag’s new report recommended that the tender process for the Leisure Centre retrofit be collapsed, and staff bring back a proposal for a new aquatic centre, including the site, concept plan, funding source and approval process.
Council agreed to that.
This comes as council’s budget discussions propose $110 million in new borrowing for recreation facilities, including a new pool.
The existing pools would be kept at maximum operating capacity until a new pool could be constructed.
Boag also recommended staff prepare another report outlining options for Leisure Centre in the future, which was also accepted by council.
Coun. Gordy Robson wants not one, but two new pools.
One would be part of a community centre in the Albion area, and a second in the downtown core would replace the existing facility.
“Spending any money on a 35-year-old pool would be a waste of money,” said Robson.
He is pitching a new downtown pool, in a different location, in partnership with the YMCA. He said the facility could be built at a cost of $18 million to $40 million, and the YMCA would pay half of the capital costs of construction.
He said the existing pool site could be used for a new building – he envisions a convention centre and hotel.
“Tear this monstrosity down, and use the site for something productive,” said Robson.
Council faces tough decisions and Read laid the blame on past city hall administrations.
“Over the course of the last year, this council has had to deal with a number of issues that have been years in the making. This is one of them,” she said in her statement.
“In 2009, a past council passed a Parks, Recreation and Cultural Plan filled with aspirational ideas of the facilities that our growing community would need to serve citizens. However, that same council did not pass, or even ask for a business plan on how that master plan would be accomplished. Years ago, the area plans for Albion and Silver Valley were approved with a list of proposed amenities – schools, parks and trails – yet, once again, there was no plan on how those would be funded. It has become clear to us around the table that past councils have not adequately addressed the maintenance of critical assets such as our Leisure Centre pools.”