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Rinks, pool and pickleball among top priorities in Maple Ridge

New city council reviews draft parks, rec and culture master plan
A new pickleball hub is proposed in the parks, recreation and culture master plan draft. (The News files)

A new indoor aquatics centre, a pickleball hub, neighbourhood gathering places, two new sheets of arena ice, and an indoor multi-use facility were presented as the city’s top five recreation infrastructure priorities, as Maple Ridge city council reviewed a draft of the city’s new master plan.

Stephen Slawuta of Surrey-based consultant RC Strategies presented the draft plan to council on Tuesday, saying while there is high general satisfaction with parks, rec and culture in the city, there is also “strong demand for new facility development.”

The draft noted the city has added 20,000 residents since 2006. While Maple Ridge offers most amenities at a similar level to comparable cities, arenas and indoor aquatics facilities are “provided at a lower provision level.”

The plan spoke to the need for two ice sheets, including one in the near term.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef disagreed.

“I think we need both ice sheets today, if not yesterday, at least according to a lot of the user groups,” said the second-term councillor.

READ ALSO: Council puts new pool, rec facilities on the table

The draft said the city must explore potential sites for a new aquatics centre, and possible land acquisition.

Slawuta told council it would probably take five years for the city to plan, build and open a new aquatics centre.

There is growing demand for pickleball facilities across the region, and it has been labelled the fastest-growing sport in North America.

“Pickleball is obviously a significant trend right now, and we certainly don’t see any evidence that’s going away,” Slawuta told council.

Mayor Dan Ruimy said there were no surprises in the draft, and it will inform council planning in the coming days.

“Next week when we go into our strategy session, these are the things we’ll be talking about,” said Ruimy.

He said the master plan is based on feedback from the community, and council’s task is to “make these things happen.”

“I would be happy to see shovels in the ground before the end of our (four-year) term,” he said.

Other key strategies in the plan include addressing the need to acquire land for parks and recreation, a new trails committee and trails strategy, more community gardens, to study camping needs, and make better use of parks for building community.

The Hammond Pool is nearing the end of its life, and a decision will need to be made on its future.

Slawuta said the city should work with the City of Pitt Meadows and School District 42 on a study of the supply of sports fields.

Work on the master plan began in spring of this year, and included inventory, analysis and community engagement. There were surveys taken by almost 1,300 residents, another 118 youth surveys, 34 user groups filled out questionnaires, and there were 15 sessions with 50 stakeholder groups.

RC Strategies are the same consultants who completed Pitt Meadows’ strategy.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows adopts its first independent Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan

A final round of public consultation is coming in December, and council will be asked to endorse the master plan early in the new year.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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