After this summer, Maple Ridge could be without an indoor pool for as long as 13 months.
“We are on the verge of having a catastrophic shutdown,” said Coun. Gordy Robson, adding that water leaks are getting worse.
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.
Now, with a new pool still an estimated four or five years away, and the Leisure Centre pool failing, council voted Tuesday night to start an upgrade that will likely cost more than $7 million.
The renovations could include expanded underground parking and a new lobby for the centre.
New pool construction, however, is not going to happen during this council’s mandate, said Robson.
“Council can’t agree what the pool should be or where it should be, let alone how to finance it.”
Mayor Nicole Read said the need for a new pool was identified in a 2010 parks master plan. At that time, the indoor pool was already 30 years old, and was at capacity during peak hours of use.
“I find it really disappointing that we find ourselves here,” said Read. “It’s a failing facility.”
Staff is looking at arranging busing from the Leisure Centre to pools in nearby cities during the closure.
Read said programs can be shifted to Hammond Pool during the summer.
She added the city is in the middle of a public engagement process regarding new cultural and recreation facilities, including the new aquatic facility, which could include an eight-lane, 25-metre competition pool.
It would be part of a multi-use wellness facility with a curling rink, and cost an estimated $65 to $70 million. But there is no site for it.
“We need to get on that as quickly as we can,” said Read.
Coun. Bob Masse said councillors regret having to displace staff members, and “very much inconvenience the public,” but heard from staff it is necessary.
“We need to do it,” said Masse. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t already do it.”
Council has considered partial closures of the Leisure Centre for some phases of the renovation. But that would extend the construction time by at least three months, and increase the cost, council heard.
The city has known since 2014 that both the leisure pool and hot tub had “significant leakage” and the source of the problems are beneath the pool and deck surface. Engineers reported the structural systems were compromised at that time.
“A new aquatics facility is likely four to five years away from completion and the reliability of the aquatics area is a major concern for staff,” said Tuesday’s staff report to council.
“Failure of the filtration systems would result in immediate displacement of customers resulting in significant impacts to all users. By planning for the retrofit in advance of an unplanned closure, staff can liaise with neighboring municipalities such as Langley, Abbotsford and Surrey to utilize pool space for the swim clubs and for other existing aquatics users and prepare a plan to mitigate staff impacts.”
The construction cost for the retrofit as of November 2015 for a full pool closure was $4.8 million. The cost would increase to $5.4 million if the project time was extended to accommodate partial opening of one pool during construction.
Staff said today’s costs will be determined under current market value.
An estimate for construction costs for the priority improvements from the Leisure Centre Facility Space Planning Audit is an additional $1.37 million, and that will include a redesign of the change rooms and provision for a “community living room” in the reception area/lobby.
Council approved a staff recommendation to issue a request for proposal for detailed design of the priority improvements at the facility.
Staff has also been directed to “re-engage Shape Architecture to update the Leisure Centre mechanical room design to include relocation of the pool mechanical systems to allow for future additional underground parking and an outdoor plaza should the Civic Centre proceed in the future.”