‘Study new pool options first’

Coun. Robson suggests downtown city site as looming upgrades are scheduled to cost the city $5.5 million.

Upgrades to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre are pegged at more than $5 million

Upgrades to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre are pegged at more than $5 million

Maple Ridge is about to start its $5.5-million renovation of the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre pool, but on Monday Coun. Gordy Robson continued brainstorming alternatives to that plan.

Robson said earlier that the current pool should be bulldozed and a new, larger pool be built in its place.

Then at council’s strategic planning session, he suggested a new pool be built on the three acres of land the city owns on Selkirk Avenue between 226th and 227th streets.

“If you want to go spend it, spend it. But I’d like to look at the concept of tearing the pool down and build the proper one that we could use for tourism in our community,” he told councillors.

The existing pool could be kept open while construction is underway, then once the new pool is complete, the existing Leisure Centre could be torn down and a convention centre, with a small hotel could be built in its place, as originally planned.

He wanted council to delay proceeding with the engineering study for the pool renovations until council had heard from the YMCA, which has built several pools in Metro Vancouver in partnership with municipalities.

In Surrey, the YMCA operates the Tong Louie Family YMCA centre, which is jointly owned by Surrey and the YMCA, with the latter covering the operating costs.

Currently, Maple Ridge is spending $1.5 million a year to operate the Leisure Centre, Robson added.

He said the pool should be accessible by transit, which isn’t available in Albion flats on Lougheed Highway and 105th Avenue, where it has also been suggested a new pool be built.

“I’d like us to move ahead quickly and boldly,” Robson said.

But Coun. Kiersten Duncan said it wasn’t the time.

“I just don’t think it’s appropriate in the current context.”

Coun. Craig Speirs said he welcomed the discussion.

“A 50-metre pool is what we need,” but it has to be part of sports complex rather than convention centre.

Mayor Nicole Read said with Maple Ridge’s growing population, the city needs more pools, not just one, and that council was committed to renovating the Leisure Centre.