Councillor responds to Aldergrove pool questions

Council unanimous in support for plan for outdoor swimming pool: Coun. Bob Long responds to questions and issues raised by residents

A member of a Facebook page emailed me about the Aldergrove Recreation Centre proposed for Downtown Aldergrove – I am going to post my responses to help clarify my position and what has been put before council over the years regarding this long anticipated project. Please don’t take my words in any context other than me presenting the facts as I know them and the decisions I supported at council. I know this will not satisfy many who are participating in this blog, but I do want to present the information I provided to the writer in proper context.

Here is what has been written and asked: “Please meet and reconsider the plan for the outdoor pool being constructed here in Aldergrove. Waste of money! Better not to bother! We were promised an indoor facility. It is important for us to have a facility that can be used all year round.”

Here is my response:

Township Council has spent several years examining the recreational opportunities for the Aldergrove area of The Township, including employing the advice from recreation experts in the field – a replacement for the outdoor pool has always been part of the plan as The Township already subsidizes two indoor aquatic facilities.

The combining of our other facilities in the new Aldergrove Recreation Centre is shown in the diagrams. The facility will include a recreation gym with exercise equipment, a full size ice arena and entertainment centre as well as the outdoor waterpark – a unique complex unlike any municipally owned and operated anywhere in the Fraser Valley.

The year round lap pool, which will now be covered with a canopy, is shown in the diagram. Energy derived from the ice making operations of the arena will heat the pool and the two hot tubs. The budget is (approx.) $26,000,000 and the funds are coming from our capital reserves and so therefore the construction costs will not require tax increases but the operation subsidy is estimated at about $500,000 per year.

Constructing another indoor facility would eliminate the outdoor park activities, increase the subsidy required for both Walnut Grove and Blair indoor pools, easily double the construction costs and increase the subsidy by (approx.) $750,000 annually.

Hope this information helps clarify why council has unanimously approved this exciting project.

Then it was followed with subsequent question: “I just don’t understand why there were meetings that I attended, demonstrating the proposed indoor pool showing residents the amazing plans that were possible; at that time I do not remember any mention of a small outdoor shallow pool. The demos and diagrams certainly raised expectations. We as taxpayers want to know what we are paying for. I would not mind an increase in tax to have a proper facility here. It would raise the value of property and create a perfect place for children to the wintertime. I will probably never swim in any pool, but I have teenage and toddler grandchildren in the community. I have spent hours driving them to other facilities. What about those who cannot drive? If you read the arguments made by the taxpayers, you will see that their arguments are valid. No one can swim in the winter except the most hardy and healthy.”

My response:

During the public consultation process, council wanted to consider all possibilities for the new recreation centre – so yes, a number of concepts were shown, however, the process also revealed, through staff and consultants analysis, that the costs and scope of some of these concepts far exceed our ability to construct and maintain. A modest indoor facility would cost over $35 million and would need to service an area population far greater than what exists now in the Aldergrove area or what could be possibly forecasted for the future, to be viable.

The money for construction of the project was always to come from land sales and not from tax increases – but the public will recall, council was convinced not to sell certain lands and so it was faced with a considerably reduced funding source too.

The Township is working with world class facility designers on this new and exciting project and besides the outdoor water park with waterslides, tidal pool, current channel, a children’s’ aqua structure, year-round playground and picnic area, plans for the year-round aquatic portion also include: *heated pool deck floor *overhead deck heaters *change rooms and observation seating *two hot tubs *sauna and steam-room *windscreens and landscaping …all of which will help protect the swim area from the elements.

The year-round heated lap pool component of the project is a 6-lane 25-metre pool which is of a significant size for lap swimmers, swimming lessons and exercise programs. It is not a leisure pool regardless of whether it is covered or enclosed.

The canopy and heating system will make the season much longer than ever before for any outdoor pool in the region and perhaps teenagers along with avid swimmers will utilize it even on the coldest days. Many top health resorts boast year-round heated outdoor pools and hot tubs that are very popular.

Besides the new arena and entertainment complex, the indoor recreation portion of the project will include: *an indoor track circling the arena floor *state of the art exercise equipment *all purpose rooms for meetings and programs *a special exercise room with wood sprung floor for participatory programs such as yoga, stretching, and low impact fitness activities *concessions and Township service counter – and of course a new arena that will serve the community for many years to come, freeing up the existing arena lands for much needed housing for Aldergrove.

There is tremendous potential for citizens to engage in a positive way with what is being built and move our community of Aldergrove in a direction of health and activity. I hope that some of those who feel that this is an exciting, affordable and worthwhile project can be heard too.

Yours truly, Bob Long, Clr., Township of Langley