‘Why not just build new pool?’

Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson floats idea over fixing current one.

Instead of spending $5 million dollars fixing up the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, Coun. Gordy Robson says council should think bigger.

Tear down the old pool, where a metal pipe recently crashed from the ceiling on to the pool deck, and build a better one, says the former mayor.

Robson made the comment during a parks and recreation services review that showed the city is now competing with private businesses in running a fitness gym, one part of the Leisure Centre.

“I’d rather build a new pool and get rid of that whole monstrous building. Get us out of the gymnasium business,” Robson said.

“Why are we competing, as taxpayers, against these people? It makes no sense to me.”

“I’d tear down the whole building, build a new pool, a new building.”

After spending $5 million on renovations, Maple Ridge’s Leisure Centre still wouldn’t compare with Mission’s, he added.

The idea got support from at least one councillor – but staff were quick to pour cold water on the idea.

The Leisure Centre needs work now and it would take four to five years to build a new pool, said chief administrator Jim Rule.

Feasibility studies, engineering studies would be needed.

“Again, you’re talking four to five years minimum.”

Despite falling drainage pipe, which happened Jan. 30, the pool and the building is safe, Rule added.

“If the building was not safe, we would not operate it. We would close it down.”

Coun. Bob Masse, though, supported the idea of a new swimming pool, pointing out Maple Ridge is about to spend $440,000 just on an engineering study for the renovations.

“I actually think the idea of building a fantastic aquatic centre and getting out of the gym business has some merit,” Masse added.

“The pool’s at capacity and we’re going to have to build a second pool at some point, somebody’s going to have to. I actually think we should consider it.”

The Leisure Centre has been approved for the $5.5-million refit and repair, which will include replacing leaky pipes below the pool deck, and installing new filtration and mechanical systems.

For example, the 35-year-old filters that keep the pool water clean can’t keep up with the number of people using the pool. And when they break down, replacement parts have to be custom made, which is costly.

According to a consultant’s report from last fall, the leisure pool is losing 6,800 litres of water a day, while the level in the swirl pool is dropping by more than 7.5 centimetres each day. The surge tank wall that serves both pools is deteriorating and concrete and corroded re-bar are visible.

In recent years, there have also been evacuations of the pool because of leaks in the chlorine room. The pool uses chlorine gas to sanitize the water. The renovations would install a safer system.

Mayor Nicole Read said the idea of constructing a new pool could be part of the strategic plan discussion, when overall goals are set.

But Robson said a preliminary engineering report on the renovations should also study the option of building a new pool to see if it’s feasible.

Council heard that a leak from the Leisure Centre roof outside caused the drainage pipe fastener to rust undetected inside, and to fall early in the morning of Jan. 30.

Read said she’s asking for a report on the incident, but hasn’t yet received it. However, staff say they can’t find any documentation about that part of the facility.