News Views: Deep end

The indignity shown by Maple Ridge council this past week regarding the potential closure of the Leisure Centre pool for renovations ...

The indignity shown by Maple Ridge council this past week regarding the potential closure of the Leisure Centre pool for renovations is a farce.

No way did council have no clue, given the scope of the renovations and discussions about those over the past year – not to mention the previous evacuations and a falling pipe  – that shutting the pool down for a significant length of time was a possibility.

The mere mention of replacing pipes connotes digging, does it not?

It’s not like the city isn’t in the business of handing out construction contracts. Roads and bridges don’t get built overnight.

Councillors feigned shock at the suggested length of closure – a year or more – and dismay at the prospect of laying off pool staff. Without doubt both are unenviable positions.

But discussions about the need for pool renovations go back almost 18 months and have been listed in the city’s financial plan.

Don’t be fooled. The charade performed by council is a mere power play to build a new pool.

Coun. Gordy Robson proposed as much back in March. He even suggested partnering with the YMCA to built it.

Then council broke from its parks partnership with Pitt Meadows and proposed borrowing $110 million for recreation facilities as part of this year’s budget discussions.

Borrowing for a project such as a new pool would require public support. Of course, the money would have to be paid back, through taxes. And increasing taxes is never popular.

So council needs to sell its plans.

It wants to borrow money to build things.

So it must justify to the public why, how and when.

The chatter over the Leisure Centre renovations creates the perception of an emergent need.

There will be talk of borrowing, of grants and fees and increases, of paying off other projects, of needs other than a new pool, such as fields and ice rinks.

Which is fine. Cities build. That’s how they grow.

We’re not suggesting that Maple Ridge doesn’t need new parks and recreation facilities.

We’re suggesting that taxpayers pay attention and understand what they might be asked to pay for, how much and for how long, above the pool renovations.

Hopefully they’re satisfied with the answers, and not surprised if their taxes go up.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

 

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