Spray decks are in, standalone outdoor pools are out, and at the top of the scrap heap lies Rochester Pool.
Coquitlam council debated a wide-ranging report examining the state of aquatics infrastructure in the city Monday, and some of the key recommendations included a move away from the traditional outdoor pools that were commonplace in decades past.
Not only did the report call for the permanent closure of Rochester, it recommended that no new standalone outdoor pools be built over the next 15 years.
"I wish we hadn't had to close Rochester," Mayor Richard Stewart said. "It was a pool that was having its trouble 25 and 30 years ago.
There's no question that, at this point, the prudent decision may well be that we have to close it. But it has served a long life."
Operations at the pool, which was built in 1968, were suspended last year due to issues around fractures, leakage, erosion and potential replacement costs.
Staff offered four scenarios when the pool was closed last year: refurbish the existing basin at a cost of $170,000, build a new pool in the $4million range, reuse the pool basin and change room building for other recreational uses, or decommission the pool.
A final decision on the fate
of the pool was put off until the receipt of the report that was ultimately issued on Monday.
"Trends in B.C. and Canada demonstrate a significant decline in the investment in standalone outdoor pools," said Joyce Fordyce, the city's manager of recreation. "The cost to build and operate a standalone outdoor pool for a very short season is significantly higher when you compare it to an indoor operation, or the new emerging trend of indoor/outdoor operations."
Other highlights of the plan, which covers a 15-year period and comes with a $60million preliminary price tag, include: an expansion of the City Centre Aquatic Complex, a new indoor pool for northeast Coquitlam, a move to build more spray decks in neighbourhood parks, and a transition towards facilities that can accommodate both indoor and outdoor swimming areas.
Additional features - referred to as clusters - are also planned for Spani Pool, while any decision on upgrades to Eagle Ridge Pool will be made after other infrastructure is completed.
"Spani Pool could be an all-day destination site and the crown jewel of Mundy Park with spray parks, gradual entry wading pools - places where you'd want to go for the whole day," Fordyce said.
Of the many recommendations in the report, only one will be implemented this year - a replacement of the spray deck at Burns Park.
Statistics from the report show the city's current inventory of aquatic sites has yet to meet capacity - in 2011, about 900,000 visits were made, while the capacity levels max out at around 1.2 million annual visits.
For that reason, a number of the recommended changes will likely be phased in over the next decade or longer.
"We have time," Fordyce said. "The timing of this capital investment for renewal is flexible, can be adaptable and it lays a great framework for us to begin to think about how to address that infrastructure over the next 15 years.
But for all the talk of change, almost every council member cautioned against moving away from standalone outdoor pools.
"Like all the funny
shoes and all the funny fashions, they have a way of coming back and I really think that outdoor pools are a bonus for a neighbourhood," said Coun. Mae Reid.
Coun. Brent Asmundson, however, defended the move to close Rochester due to its repair costs in relation to other recreation projects planned for the city - a covered outdoor sports facility, and the need for more lacrosse boxes and hockey rinks, for example.
"I think people may not like the direction of closing some outdoor pools, but we have to invest for the best return, the highest rate of use and for the best facilities that are going to meet the needs for swimmers," he said.
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