(file/THE NEWS) The $9 million renovation of the Leisure Centre pool that was scheduled to begin in November has been pushed back until the new year.

Maple Ridge Leisure Centre pool closure delayed until new year

City rejects proposals as bids fail to meet city's purchasing and procurement policy

The closure of the pool at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is being pushed back to at least January after the current round of proposals failed to meet the city’s bidding criteria.

Wendy McCormick, director of recreation and community services, said a new request for proposals will be reissued, which means at least another six weeks before that process is closed.

She said it will likely be into the new year before work can begin. The current bidding processed closed last week and work was expected to start in November.

“This can occur from time to time with the tendering process where the city’s purchasing and procurement policy needs cannot be met,” said McCormick.

She said the city will be re-issuing the invitation to tender process and anticipates being able to secure an experienced firm to do the work.

McCormick said the delay is not anticipated to have a significant impact on the project timeline.

With a new pool still an estimated four or five years away, council voted in late February to upgrade the Leisure Centre at a cost of more than $9 million. It will take more than a year to complete.

The need for a new pool was identified in a city’s 2010 parks master plan. At that time, the indoor pool was already 30 years old, and was at capacity during peak hours of use.

In December 2015, council’s position was the community could not afford to be without a pool.

The city would build a new one, and the retrofit the old one.

In 2015, the complete retrofit costs of the Leisure Centre was estimated at $5.3 million. However, the city rejected the idea.

Coun. Gordy Robson said he was told by city staff and there was some confusion over the wording in the proposal and the city can expect to see proposals back from tenders in 10 to 12 weeks.

He said staff didn’t explain what criteria wasn’t met.

“I think it may have something to do with the fact that this project has been put out before and I don’t think anybody’s too happy with bidding on it again,” said Robson.

He’s disappointed with the whole process and is going to suggest to council to bring someone in from outside the city to oversee the project.

“It sounds a little off to me. It bothers me that it might throw off our schedule and it certainly makes it more difficult for our staff because, at this point, we don’t know when construction will begin or how long it will take.”

The closure has caused concerns for local swim clubs, the Haney Seahorses and the Haney Neptunes Aquatic Club.

In response, the city is extending the opening of the Hammond outdoor pool for extra two months in 2018, in May and June, in addition to July and August. Admission will also be waived.

The city is also leasing pool time in five other communities, including Langley.

Maple Ridge is also looking at options for building a new outdoor swimming pool.

City staff are seeking bids for designing and building an outdoor, 25-metre pool located along 232nd Street, near Thomas Haney secondary, next to the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club, at an estimated cost of $6 million.

It also unanimously approved the start of a year-long public consultation process for a new indoor pool, which could cost up to $70 million.