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More land sales planned to fund pool

An artist’s rendering shows how the new Aldergrove swimming pool and recreation complex is expected to look.  - submitted image
An artist’s rendering shows how the new Aldergrove swimming pool and recreation complex is expected to look.
— image credit: submitted image

The Township of Langley is planning to sell more municipal land to help fund a new community centre, pool and ice arena in Aldergrove.

If sales go as planned, The Times has been told that construction on the five-acre site of the former Aldergrove Elementary School on Fraser Highway could begin as soon as 2015.

But if they don’t, the start will have to be pushed back at least another year.

A report being prepared by Township staff for council has identified a number of sites that could be sold to cover the cost of the new facility.

The location of the sites will not be made public until the report has been presented to council, but it’s hoped they will not generate the same kind of controversy that occurred when the Township attempted to sell off nearly 50 acres of Township-owned land in 2012 to fund the Aldergrove facility.

That drew immediate opposition and produced drawn-out and often-heated debates in council chambers.

As a result, one section, McLellan Forest West, was taken off the market a few months after the sale plans were made public.

The remaining forested property, the Gray Pit Lands, stayed on the market until Trinity Western University bought it for a nature reserve with the assistance of a $2.5 million donation from the family of the late Thomas Blaauw. (See related story).

The information about the plan to sell off more municipal land identified as surplus was released by the Township in response to a Times query on Tuesday.

Township staff are also searching for other sources of money, including grants from provincial and federal governments.

Council approved spending $1 million this year on a detailed technical study of the Aldergrove project that will include a more exact cost estimate.

Council also set a tentative $37.5 million budget for facility construction the year after.

One of the known sites being sold to help fund the recreation centre is a proposal to develop 19 acres of land into 61 residential lots in Aldergrove.

The site near 28 Avenue and 276 Street used to be a sewage treatment plant that was decommissioned in the late 1990s.

Though there has been some opposition to the proposal, all but one member of council voted for the development.

The overall cost of the Aldergrove rec centre took a jump in July of last year when a consultant’s report to council warned the Township of Langley would either have to find another $15 million or start cutting features.

BTY Group of Vancouver put the cost of constructing a community centre with a new three-storey aquatic centre and two-storey ice arena at $50.3 million, more than the $35.5 million “spending envelope” approved by council.

Township staff have also identified another $3 million in “off-site” costs connected with upgrading roads, water and sewer connections to accommodate the new centre.

The new estimates were made after council decided to build a larger pool than the four-lane, 25-metre “short course” pool recommended by staff.

At the time, an “Aquatic Needs Assessment” report by another consultant said the decision to go from four to six lanes would add $600,000 to $1 million to the cost.

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