Bigger is better, critic says of pool plan

Watermania already has a 50-metre competition-friendly pool, and building another in Minoru Park would come at the expense of park space, according to Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. - Jessica Spencer photo via Flickr
Watermania already has a 50-metre competition-friendly pool, and building another in Minoru Park would come at the expense of park space, according to Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
— image credit: Jessica Spencer photo via Flickr

A longtime local resident wonders why the city didn’t opt to build a 50-metre pool instead of the current 25-metre pool currently called for in plans to replace the Minoru Aquatic Centre.

Chris Neale, a former facilities manager for the University of BC Aquatic Centre, said the city’s existing plan is short-sighted, and lacks the long-term vision needed for the downtown core.

“If council is going to spend $80 million...could we have a facility that complements this community, that will serve us for the next 50 years?” Neale wrote in a letter to council. “A 25-metre pool just does not serve the best interests of the community.”

Coun. Bill McNulty said he also posed the question about the 50-metre pool for the $80-million facility, which will house both a replacement for the existing pool as well as a seniors centre.

But he said there wasn’t enough support on council to build the longer pool.

Rosemary Nickerson, vice-chair of the Richmond Aquatics Services Board, explained that a longer pool would have used up the space necessary for secondary pools (a leisure pool and a teaching pool) that better meet the needs of those recreational users who currently frequent the facility.

Having multiple pools heated to different temperatures would provide more space for offering different programs, such as physiotherapy and lessons, she said, adding that between 1,500 and 1,800 people use the Minoru facility daily.

Discussions about the replacement facility have been in the works since 2007, she said, and lots of thought has been put into it.

Coun. Ken Johnston said the city listened to community input in reaching its decision to build a 25-metre pool instead.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said building a 50-metre pool that’s more suited to hosting competitions in the downtown core isn’t a wise idea.

He noted that Watermania, for which the city still has a lease effective until 2027, has a 50-metre competition-friendly pool and plenty of parking for users.

Brodie said enlarging the footprint of the facility to accommodate both the longer pool and the other pools would have come at the sacrifice of other park space.

“It’s important that we maximize our use of space,” he said. “We don’t want to extend the building significantly.”

The proposed new facility will provide one-third more water space in a better-designed facility, Brodie added.

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