Letter: Build a healthier community

Letter: Build a healthier community

We can be into the ground by May 2018.

Editor, The News:

Re: Build pool with good balance.

The recent comments from Pavel Tkatchouk and Ron Jones contain some concerns.

The stated aquatics budget seems extreme. What is not clear is whether the budget has other considerations, like poor soil conditions, off-site costs (cost to bring services to the site), parking costs or other programming that was not originally planned (program creep).

I am semi-retired from an industry that I spent 50 years of participating. During that time I have built several projects as a construction manager for public recreation centres. In fact, 35 years has been dedicated to the project delivery of several aquatic centres and arenas and other municipal venues, like libraries.

The program always starts off the same, with politicians trying to appease the community, then insisting that staff deliver a program to meet everyone’s needs.

Staff work with the stakeholders to develop the program. Stakeholders start the process to influence politicians or municipal employees.

There is such a thing as the newlywed scheme, where we build what we need, but with a clear plan for growth. Our needs have never been greater to build a healthier community.

The process has the ability to create divisions around whose needs are more important. All public recreation projects are required to be inclusive and not exclusive.

Stakeholder input is always welcome, but there has to be clear understanding that not everyone will get a complete wish list. They will know, however, that they were dealt with fairly and consistent with the need to be inclusive.

I have built aquatic centres and arenas in Whistler, Nanaimo, Coquitlam, Trail, Mission, Cochrane-Alberta, Williams Lake and several other locations in Canada. We have never seen more active communities than in the last 10 years.

Seniors are having a significant contribution to the direction of recreation. We just completed the largest warm water therapy pool in Canada as the direct result of seniors participation.

All projects are budget driven – not design driven.

It is unfair of our political representatives to expect staff to drive a significant capital program when they have little experience managing the process and at the same time are required to run it off the edge of their desk while doing their regular job.

Staff communicates with the design authority (architect) and usually gives instructions for program that in most cases is far beyond the requirements (needs) of the community. The consultants will respond to the instructions given by the owner which is the wish list from the stakeholders.

The current program for an outdoor pool is expensive for a limited program (seasonal). It is an exclusive program for some swimming lessons and swim club.

The last municipal newly constructed outdoor pool was at Moody Park – New Westminster, which included a leisure component. That design was made inclusive by the community .

I am a proud Maple Ridge resident of 11 years and the need for amenities has never been greater. In the last three years, the cost of construction has increased by 10 per cent and there is a shortage of trades available for the work.

We have lost a significant amount of monies that could have gone into meeting the programming needs and increasing the value of our facilities.

This is not an onerous process and the program can be clarified quickly. We can be into the ground by May 2018.

John S. Bowser

Maple Ridge

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