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Fight is on for a full-size pool

Artist rendering of a proposed recreation and pool facility for Aldergrove. Residents want an eight-lane, 50-metre swimming pool with a dive tank (deep end) rather than the smaller six-lane, 25-metre one that is planned. - submitted image
Artist rendering of a proposed recreation and pool facility for Aldergrove. Residents want an eight-lane, 50-metre swimming pool with a dive tank (deep end) rather than the smaller six-lane, 25-metre one that is planned.
— image credit: submitted image

The people pushing for a pool in Aldergrove aren’t prepared to accept a partial victory, according to Joanne Nicolato, the chair and founder of the 116-member Aldergrove Recreation and Pool Society, the group that launched the campaign to build a pool.

The preliminary design for the pool, part of a new recreation centre approved by the Township, calls for six 25-metre “short course” lanes without a dive tank (deep end), rather than the 50-metre, eight-lane “long course” swimming pool Nicolato says most residents favour.

“Overwhelmingly, everyone says they want a bigger pool,” Nicolato told The Times.

The full-size pool also has the support of Karen Bennett, the Fraser Valley regional director of the BC Summer Swimming Association, who has written a letter saying an “optimum” facility would have a 50-metre pool with eight lanes that includes a dive tank and a moveable bottom that would support a 2.5 metre depth for the whole pool.

“This would support the potential to host provincial championships for our organization, not to mention other groups that are always looking for competition pools including Swim BC, Water Polo BC, BC Diving, as well as Canadian organizations like Water Polo Canada, Diving  Canada, and Swimming Canada,” Bennett said.

Nicolato (pictured below) believes a long course pool would allow the new rec centre to host major swim meets and diving competitions that would attract visitors — and their dollars — to the area.

“Potentially it could bring a lot of money in.”

She worries that Township planners are giving more attention to hockey, simply because there already is an existing arena in the area.

“You have a hockey community [in Aldergrove],” Nicolato said.

“You don’t have a swim community because you really don’t have a pool.”

She believes the 25-metre pool simply won’t be big enough, and fixing that mistake later on won’t be cheap.

“You can’t make a pool bigger without substantial cost,” Nicolato said.

“It needs to be for 20 years from now, not yesterday.”

For 12 years, the long-time Aldergrove resident has been taking her three kids outside their community for swimming and water polo, going as far away as Haney and Vancouver.

She promises the society will continue to lobby the Township for a full-size pool.

“It could be the jewel [of a] rec centre. If they do it right.”

The preliminary designs for the site of the former Aldergrove Elementary school site at Fraser Highway and 270 Street were presented to Langley Township council Feb. 4 with the final report of the standing committee on the Aldergrove community centre.

The next step will be a report by Township staff in April that will set out the “milestone dates” for the project.

If council approves the proposed schedule, the next step will come 60 to 90 days later with the selection and hiring of an architect and the start of actual design work.

If everything goes according to plan, the new facility could open in 2015.

Langley Township council earlier approved the controversial sale of Township-owned land in Glen Valley to help fund the new community centre, swimming pool and ice rink in Aldergrove.

While the Township waits for the sales, it will use money from surplus funds and reserves, as well as short-term borrowing “of less than five years” to fund construction of the Aldergrove Community Centre.

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