Lauren Downey of the Haney Neptunes at Maple Ridge Leisure Centre. Club president Jim Baxter presented to council Tuesday asking for a second look at building a larger outdoor pool at Hammond Community Centre.

Lauren Downey of the Haney Neptunes at Maple Ridge Leisure Centre. Club president Jim Baxter presented to council Tuesday asking for a second look at building a larger outdoor pool at Hammond Community Centre.

Maple Ridge council says no to new pool, museum

Opts for new ice sheet and park improvements

Maple Ridge council has said no to a new indoor aquatic centre, covered stadium and civic and cultural centre – but yes to a new sheet of ice at Planet Ice at Albion fairgrounds.

Meanwhile, staff will take a second look to see if Hammond Community Centre has enough room for a bigger and better outdoor pool.

The decision will get more kids on to fields, on to ice and into the water, at the lowest possible cost, said Coun. Tyler Shymkiw.

“We simply don’t have the capacity, both financially and as an organization, to try to build $200 to $300 million worth of projects all at once,” he said.

While a majority of council rejected a new indoor pool, Shymkiw said it should be the next major project in future years.

Council finalized its to-do list for rec facilities at its Tuesday meeting, which could mean that by fall, the public will be asked to OK city borrowing to pay for the projects which it has approved.

Council also approved renovations to the track at Maple Ridge secondary along with two small, outdoor parks in Silver Valley, improvements to the Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club facility at Whonnock Lake, renos to Hammond Community Centre, as well as construction of the Albion community centre on 104th Avenue. The total cost for the latter four projects would be about $15 million.

An additional sheet of ice, leaving the current Golden Ears Winter Club curling surface untouched, would cost about $20 million.

Council also has previously OK’d seeking public approval on borrowing $10 million for two new artificial fields at Thomas Haney secondary.

All told, the projects could add up to $50 million.

The decision means the rejection of half of the proposed rec projects – the pool, covered stadium and civic and cultural centre which would have held a museum, that had been brought out to public consultation over the last year.

Couns. Gordy Robson, Corisa Bell, Bob Masse and Tyler Shymkiw voted against the aquatic centre and museum.

Robson said he had “great sympathy” for an aquatic centre, “but I’m not prepared to mortgage people’s houses for the next 25 years.”

Mayor Nicole Read opposed the scrapping of both the cultural centre/museum and aquatic centre, adding she regretted the effort put in so far to the cultural centre.

However, “There is never a wrong time to put the brakes on,” a project, Read said.

Read and staff visited Ottawa last year to lobby for federal money for a civic and cultural centre.

“This is one project most likely to attract senior government funding,” said Coun. Craig Speirs.

He, Read and Coun. Kiersten Duncan voted for the aquatic centre, estimated at $70 million, and a civic and cultural centre, priced at about $40 million.

Read was concerned about council’s rejection of the aquatic centre, and said she heard from all groups supporting an indoor pool.

“It’s the one activity that pretty much every single family in the community uses or participates in.”

The pool is busy all the time, while Maple Ridge continues to grow.

“We don’t have room in our existing facility,” she said. “This is one item that the entire community commented positively on. It’s the one facility that everybody uses.”

A location hasn’t yet been decided on for the aquatic centre, and Read added more work needed to be done on the project. However, she said it should have been included on the list of projects for which council will seek taxpayer approval.

“It’s (the pool) the next, big project,” said Coun. Tyler Shymkiw. “At the end of the day, this is going to be the work of the next council, regardless.”

Council voted separately on each of the rec projects, with Couns. Gordy Robson, Corisa Bell, Tyler Shymkiw and Bob Masse voting down the civic and cultural facility and the indoor aquatic centre, while Mayor Nicole Read and Couns. Craig Speirs and Kiersten Duncan voted in favour.

Staff will re-examine the Hammond Community Centre site to see if it can accommodate an expanded outdoor pool that could cost about $6 million.

Robson also didn’t want the portion of municipal tax now being used to pay for the municipal town centre buildings such as the Arts Centre Theatre to be reallocated to new projects. Instead, he wanted property taxes to drop once the previous projects were paid off in 2027.

Council earlier this year rejected putting in two new artificial fields in Albion fairgrounds because the loss of 380 temporary parking stalls would have negatively affected events such as the Ridge Meadows Home Show and Country Fest.

But Shymkiw said space for the new sheet of ice will remove only 90 parking spots from the area.

“It’s a lot more manageable for them than losing 380,” he said.

Council also rejected a staff proposal that would have seen the aquatic centre (with an ice sheet) four artificial sports fields (two at Thomas Haney and one each at Maple Ridge secondary and Golden Ears elementary) construction of the new Albion community centre and the balance of the renos to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre completed at a cost of about $103 million.

That would have been paid for over eight years with a phased-in property tax increase of 0.6 per cent a year, working out to another $100 per year for an average home, after eight years.

New artificial fields at Golden Ears elementary and Maple Ridge secondary have already been funded, and construction is about to start.

Maple Ridge News