A group of Aldergrove residents are organizing a demonstration against the Aldergrove Recreation Centre project.
Unanimously approved by Township of Langley Council in June of 2015, following years of public consultations and discussion, the Aldergrove Recreation Centre is under construction at 27032 Fraser Highway, on the site of the former Aldergrove Elementary School.
Deconstruction of the derelict school buildings are complete, and site work, including geotechnical reports and other preparations, are ongoing. Tenders have been issued for some of the work, with more tenders to follow.
Residents will notice significant construction activity beginning in August and September of this year. Following 18 to 20 months of construction and a commissioning period, the facility is scheduled to open in May of 2018.
The new centre will feature a covered 25-metre outdoor pool, a two-level arena, fitness centre, indoor walking surface, and multipurpose rooms. The outdoor water park will include waterslides, tidal pool, current channel, a children’s’ aqua structure, playground, and picnic area.
However, there are a number of issues that have been raised over the pool aspect of the project and a campaign continues to seek to change council’s unanimous decision to build the centre.
Julia Cremers is one of the organizers of a “peaceful rally to voice our need for an indoor pool in Aldergrove,” set to take place on Saturday, April 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the location of the new rec centre site, Fraser Highway at 270 Street.
“Everyone needs to come out and support, letting the Council of Langley Township know… (that) we need walls not a pool with a draft. Langley Council is spending 1.5 million dollars to put a canopy on the new pool; that money would be better spent to put up walls and a roof, so the pool could be used by everyone year round,” says Cremers. “Come out and be heard, show your support so Langley Council does not make a huge mistake with their design of the new pool in Aldergrove.”
Proponents of an indoor pool have also expressed the wish that the pool be larger than 25-metres, have a deep end for diving, and that other aquatic centre facets be included in the design.
However, Township council and administration saw the estimated cost of the centre keep rising to $35 million and more during the consultation process as demands grew, and scaled back the design to keep the centre’s construction cost down to $26 million.
An aquatic centre that opened in Surrey this past month cost $55 million to construct.
None of these capital costs include operating expenses. The Township is consolidating the Aldergrove swimming pool, ice arena and community centre aspects at one site in order to keep maintenance and staff costs down by having one set of employees perform the work at the new multi-purpose centre.
The new Aldergrove Recreation Centre is estimated to cost the Township half a million dollars in annual subsidies, over and above the admission fees collected.
“Council will not listen to our emails and letters so we want to come out in person to show that Aldergrove needs an indoor pool, not a pool with a canopy,” said Cremers.
“Council gave serious consideration to fully enclosing the pool and making it an indoor facility, but there are significant capital costs involved, along with even more significant operating costs,” said Mayor Jack Froese.
“This facility will be used by people of all ages and interests, all year round, and will complement – not duplicate – existing Township recreation and aquatic opportunities.”
Pool protest organizer Alice Swenson said, “This Saturday we have an opportunity to show a strong presence. To show that families, seniors, persons with disabilities are on the same page. We all need an indoor pool. A common place where all abilities, ages and income levels can share in physical activity year round. Not just seasonally. One of our greatest community needs is not being addressed by an outdoor pool. It will exclude far too many important groups.”
The former Aldergrove Elementary school site has been levelled and fenced off for the start of construction of the new Aldergrove Recreation Centre on Fraser Highway next to 270 Street. Final plans were approved by a unanimous vote of nine Township councillors and mayor last summer and contracts have been awarded to bidders. -Kurt Langmann photo