Aldergrove is getting a new $25.8 million outdoor pool and water park, ice arena, and community centre, planned to open in May 2018.
â€œWork begins immediately,â€ said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese.
The long-promised Aldergrove recreation centre, a combined pool and arena complex, will be built on the site of the closed Aldergrove Elementary school on the western edge of the communityâ€™s downtown.
The new building includes:
â€¢ An ice arena with 550 to 600 seats in the stadium
â€¢ An indoor walking track around the stadium edge
â€¢ Three outdoor waterslides
â€¢ A water park for children with more, small slides
â€¢ A tidal pool that can generate waves, and a separate current channel where people can float on inner tubes or do aquafit.
â€¢ Meeting rooms and dedicated space for the Aldergrove Kodiaks hockey team
â€œWhat we wanted to do is build something thatâ€™s unique,â€ Mayor Jack Froese said of the design.
The pool is a compromise of sorts with some of the conflicting demands that have come to Langley Township council over the last several years.
The lap pool will be 25 metres and will be outdoor, but it will be a year round pool, he said.
Excess heat from the ice generating equipment in the adjacent arena will be used to warm the pool during the fall, winter, and early spring.
This should allow the pool and two hot tubs to operate most of the year, barring a major snowfall or deep freeze.
According to Froese and Township general manager Jason Winslade, the water park will be open in the spring and summer, and could be open at other times of the year, such as spring break or for Halloween.
â€œOne of the goals of this space is to kind of replace the Aldergrove Lake experience,â€ said Winslade.
The artificial lake south of town was filled in by Metro Vancouver Parks a few years ago.
Outdoor pools that run all year are becoming more common, said Winslade.
Admission will be the same as what is charged at the Walnut Grove and W.C. Blair pools, when the facility opens.
The new pool and arena has long been a demand of Aldergrove residents, and virtually every candidate running in last yearâ€™s civic election pledged to get the project moving.
The existing Aldergrove Pool is aging; as recently as last year it was closed for several days because the water turned cloudy due to improper painting, and lifeguards couldnâ€™t see to the bottom.
The announcement will likely not go over well with some residents who had been calling for a much larger, indoor pool. The Aldergrove Pool Committee has spent years lobbying for a 50-metre indoor pool, complete with a deep end and diving platforms.
The new plan, approved by a unanimous council vote, is different in several ways from previous concepts, including being cheaper.
In 2012, the Township held public meetings to look over two possible designs for a new pool, ice arena, and community centre complex.
Those designs would have cost $34.8 million or $33.4 million, and each involved an indoor pool, ice arena, meeting rooms, and a relocated Aldergrove Library.
The price of a cheaper facility is a smaller pool, and the loss of the Aldergrove Elementary building. Older plans would have integrated the 102-year-old school into a new facility.
Now it will be deconstructed. Some components of the building may find their way into the new structure.
â€œThere were some challenges with this building, there was a lot of asbestos in it,â€ said Froese. Rehabilitating the structure would have been costly, he said.
The pool will be built in such a way that it could be covered in the future, Froese said.
â€œItâ€™s never perfect for everybody,â€ Froese said.
But after 24 years of planning, since the early 1990s, the Township had to move forward, he said.
The Township has also been raising money for the Aldergrove pool by selling surplus lands, which has sparked several controversies in Aldergrove and Glen Valley.
Winslade said that at the current budget, the vast majority of money needed for the facility is already in capital accounts and there will not be another long list of land sales in the near future.
The cost of operating the facility is expected to be about $250,000 a year above what it will generate in user fees and revenue.
The final component of the project is the effect it will have on downtown Aldergrove.
In 2010, the Township approved a new Aldergrove Core Plan that allowed for sweeping redevelopment, with a pedestrian-focused downtown packed with people. Population in the core could rise from 500 to 5,000 over 30 years. Few developers have made any moves to rebuild in the area since then.
With new sewer and water lines, plus the Aldergrove Recreation Centre, Froese is hoping to draw in developers who will revitalize the downtown.
â€œWe want to get that buzz going in Aldergrove,â€ Froese said.