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Should Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows partner on pools?

Pitt Meadows mayor suggest joint planning with Maple Ridge

Mayor John Becker said Pitt Meadows council should reach out to Maple Ridge about joint pool planning.

Pitt Meadows is considering a new pool and Maple Ridge is also in a pool planning process, noted Becker.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t entertain a joint planning function with Maple Ridge to determine whether their planning process could exclude some of the features in a Pitt Meadows facility, so that there would be complementary facilities rather than gaps or redundancies,” said Becker.

The two communities were formerly partners in recreation and culture, until Maple Ridge ended the joint leisure services agreement in October 2016.

Pitt Meadows now has developed its own recreation department.

Becker noted the previous funding model, under the agreement, was roughly 80-20 per cent, based on the populations of the two cities. He said there is no indication Maple Ridge would be interested in joint planning, nor whether it would be interested in contributing operating funds, or capital funds, to a Pitt Meadows pool.

“We should be reaching out to our colleagues and saying, ‘We have this opportunity…. so why don’t we get together and talk,’” explained Becker.

The opportunity for Pitt Meadows is a pre-used modular Myrtha competition pool, which was used for the 2016 Fina World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Ont. It would be available at a significant discount from the price of a new modular pool. It uses laminated stainless steel panels rather than traditional concrete, and at 25-by-25 metres, would provide a 10-lane competition pool.

Pitt Meadows staff showed council options for a pool that ranged from $6 million to $10 million.

Maple Ridge is currently seeking public approval to build a new outdoor pool, and council started a public consultation on a new indoor aquatic centre.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has not heard any overtures about pool planning from Pitt Meadows, but said the initial conversations would take place at a staff level, and that may be happening.

She was surprised, because when the two cities had discussed building pools in the past, Pitt Meadows said it would be better off attending pools in other cities, as opposed to building its own pool.

“Everything we were hearing was that they weren’t doing it,” said Read, who has already announced that she will not seek re-election in next fall’s municipal elections.

She said Maple Ridge’s growth has been all in the east, in Silver Valley and Albion, and that’s where the city needs to build recreation facilities.

Pitt Meadows councillors asked staff to prepare a community engagement plan to receive feedback on purchasing the pre-used Myrtha Competition Pool, and to research various topics, including on-going operating costs, more refined construction costs, the addition of leisure pool elements and covering the pool.

Becker admitted the pool issue came seemingly out of nowhere.

He explained he learned about the opportunity to purchase the discounted pool from conversations with Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson, when they met first at a Rotary Club meeting, then again at an airport board meeting.

“I didn’t think we would be talking about a pool in this term, or the next three or four, but it’s something that’s here and now, and may be an opportunity,” Becker said.

He has learned from Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MLA Lisa Beare, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, and MP Dan Ruimy that these senior governments are working on a new grants program “that may well fit this kind of facility to a T.”

Becker said the typical funding is 40 per cent federal, 33 per cent provincial and the balance from other sources, including municipal funding.

Pitt Meadows Coun. Bill Dingwall spoke against the pool, calling it another issue that will drain staff time.

“The reason it’s still for sale is probably pretty telling – it’s not an easy fit,” he said.

The public likes lazy rivers, hot tubs and leisure pools.

“This is not that. This is a rectangle,” added Dingwall.

Pitt Meadows Coun. Janis Elkerton said ongoing operating costs are her main concern. She said residents will soon be able to enjoy a new $132 million Port Coquitlam recreation centre that is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

Elkerton also observed that sharing pool costs was the genesis of the original recreation agreement between Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“Then it morphed into everything else.”

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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