An Aldergrove resident pushed about a dozen Township council candidates for a commitment to improvements to Aldergrove recreational facilities on Monday, Nov. 3.
Joanne Nicolato has been leading the Aldergrove Pool Committee for the past three years and she told the political candidates that current facilities are out-of-date and insufficient for the community of 12,000 residents.
None of the candidates disagreed with her, as they accompanied Nicolato on a brief tour of the 50-year-old Aldergrove outdoor pool and 25-year-old Kinsmen community centre.
It was noted that the pool was closed for 52 days of its 90-day summer season this year, due to water clarity problems. These problems were finally solved by closing the pool and replacing the paint.
The community centre does offer Township recreation and exercise programs, however, these are very limited due to the small space for the workout/weight room, and its three pieces of equipment. However, according to Township policy the user fees are the same as they are for the much better-equipped Blair and Walnut Grove facilities.
Nicolato said a proposal several years ago for a pool next to the Kinsmen community centre fell through partially because it would have involved the sacrifice of sports fields that exist there and which are very popular.
She said she supports the idea of building a new pool at the former Aldergrove Elementary site, which has been purchased by the Township for this purpose.
However, she says an ice arena also proposed for the same property has sent the cost spiralling up to $50 million, even though she understood the energy savings that would be realized by using the same heat exchange system for both the pool and ice arena.
She says that the new facility should also have a gymnasium for aerobics and other exercises, weight room, running track and meeting rooms, to attract users and provide cross-training flexibility.
She seemed to be more open to reducing the committee’s push for a 50-metre pool to a 25-metre pool, although she continues to argue that it would attract more users if it followed the Walnut Grove pool’s 50-metre size.
It was noted by Councillors Charlie Fox and David Davis that all Township recreational facilities are subsidized to greater or smaller extents. For example, the Walnut Grove pool is one of the most expensive, requiring about $2 million annually to subsidize the costs. The existing Aldergrove outdoor pool brings in about $18,000 in revenues over three months, while the costs are about $33,000 for that same period.
Davis observed that he learned to swim at the Aldergrove pool and still brings his family there every summer, and that the facility serves the community as well as it ever has. And while he supports working on a larger pool here he said he was “disappointed” to hear that the Aldergrove Pool Committee isn’t prepared to help finance the project.
Nicolato replied that people in Aldergrove have been “promised a new pool for years; they’re fed up and frustrated. We’re not getting clear messages… we need to see a shovel in the ground.”
It was also noted by Fox that a previous commitment to set aside reserves from Township property sales for the project “was rescinded because it pitted communities against other communities.”
Fox said that while money will be taken from that “pot” for a new recreation centre in Aldergrove, none of the funds are “specific to the project. The property fund varies daily as we buy and sell property, as we always have.”