Residents took their drive for an indoor pool facility in Aldergrove to the streets Saturday afternoon.
Roughly 50 people, many of them carrying signs, rallied along the sidewalk on the former Aldergrove Elementary School from noon to 2 p.m., in their opposition to Langley Township’s design for an outdoor pool.
Construction on the facility on the former school site, next to Alder Alley, is expected to begin in August or September.
The Township is planning on a $28.5-million recreation and community centre complex, with both a new ice arena and pool area.
The model calls for a 25-metre outdoor lap pool, with a canopy recently approved by Township council members.
In addition to the lap pool, the complex is to include three water slides, a wave pool, and a current channel for aquafit and inner tubing.
But there is strong opposition to an outdoor pool, with some residents wanting a full indoor pool.
They believe an outdoor pool isn’t going to be used 12 months of the year.
More than 200 signatures were collected on a petition during Saturday’s rally.
The petition read, in part “We the undersigned citizens of the Township of Langley-Aldergrove, demand that our Council live up to their promises made to our residents during the 2014 election to establish an indoor pool facility in Aldergrove, not a covered outdoor pool.”
Those opposed to the Township’s design are calling for the current Aldergrove Recreation Centre plan to feature:
1.) an indoor pool that is “fully enclosed, protected from all elements, with a roof, walls, and all functions and systems that go along with having a proper indoor pool.”
2.) To have gradual entry into the indoor pool “to allow children, the elderly, and physically handicapped persons to get into and use the pool safely.”
b.) To provide a deep end for diving capabilities and advanced swimming lessons.
The response from passing motorists along Fraser Highway during Saturday’s rally was mostly positive, however one person yelled “Get a life!”
“I would, if I had a pool to get one in,” related Cathy Dunn, one of the organizers of the rally.
“I think we had a bigger turnout than we expected,” Dunn added.
Another of the organizers, Alice Swenson, has lived in Aldergrove for the past two decades and said an indoor pool has been on the wish list in the town for a long time.
“There’s a group of concerns: indoor pool, gradual entry, deep enough so people can dive in it… [the current pool model] excludes people with disabilities, it excludes children, it excludes most levels of swimming lessons, and for teenagers just playing and goofing around,” Swenson said. “It becomes a very exclusive pool instead of an inclusive pool. And us, being a very small community, we need something 365 days.”
Dunn doesn’t like the idea of Aldergrove kids taking the bus in order to travel to indoor pools in Abbotsford or Walnut Grove.
“These are rural kids and we don’t feel comfortable putting them on transit,” Dunn said, adding, “What is there for our teenagers to do here? What is there? We have wonderful organized sports groups here and by no means are we invalidated them, but not all kids play those sports.”
Dunn said Aldergrove’s youth need somewhere to go every month of the year and doesn’t feel that an outdoor pool is the solution.
“This is how kids get in trouble,” she said. “We get these wandering groups and they really don’t have anything to do.”
The Aldergrove Pool Committee has a Facebook page with more than 740 members.
Dunn hopes Township council is listening to the group’s concerns.
“We expect them to,” she said. “They’re our representatives. They’re supposed to represent us, and I don’t feel what they’re doing is representing the public, here.”