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Hundreds call for 10-lane pool at rally at New West city hall

Supporters of a 10-lane swimming pool tried to make a splash at city hall Monday night.
Canada Ganes Pool
Swimmers are urging the city to include a 10-lane pool in the new aquatics facility being planned as a replacement for the Canada Games Pool.

Supporters of a 10-lane swimming pool tried to make a splash at city hall Monday night.

More than 200 people marched from Canada Games Pool to city hall, where they gathered on the front steps and repeatedly chanted “We want a 10-lane pool,” chants so loud they could be heard inside council chambers. While the majority of the group rallied outside, a handful of Hyack Swim Club representatives headed inside to the council meeting.

“It should be a legacy for New Westminster,” resident Paul McNamara told council. “It’s not just for Hyack, and I don’t think it should just be for leisure. It should be both. Competitive swimmers cannot use leisure pools, but leisure swimmers can use competitive pools. The City of New Westminster should be the greatest city in the Lower Mainland with this venue. We should aim high.”

McNamara said New Westminster included eight, 50-metre lanes in Canada Games Pool when it was built for the 1973 Canada Summer Games and the city’s population was 35,000. He said the plan for the new pool also includes eight, 50-metre lanes, but today’s population is 75,000 and is projected to grow to 105,000 in 2041.

“This just does not make any sense,” he said.

According to McNamara, a 10-lane pool would provide the city with more space for its swim programs and lessons, and allow Hyack to run more programs and increase its financial contributions to the city.

While the conceptual plan for the new aquatics facility includes a lazy river component, McNamara said the city would be better served by including a warm water pool that functions as a leisure pool. He said the city should use competitive swimming to leverage federal funding to build a warm water pool for all to enjoy.

“I did send an email to Justin Trudeau. I thought, ‘Whatever. I’ll email and see what happens.’ I actually got a reply back from his communications manager who said they read the email thoroughly and felt this was a very worthwhile cause to investigate, and the email was passed on to the federal infrastructure minister,” McNamara said. “He is obviously aware of the Canada Games Pool.”

Despite requests for a 10-lane pool, Andrew Lindstrom said that hasn’t been presented as an option for the public to consider for the new aquatic and community centre. He expressed concern that the community hasn’t seen a cost-benefit analysis about the cost of a pool with 10 lanes.

Looking around the region, Lindstrom said similar projects to what’s proposed in New West have been built for around $45 million, which makes him question the proposed $100-million budget for the local facility. For $100 million, he thinks the city should be able to get a better facility than what is being proposed.

“The numbers don’t see to add up to us,” he said.

Mayor Jonathan Cote said staff will present city council with a report in two weeks that includes details about input from the public consultation and detailed cost estimates of the different components of the project.

Lindstrom said a 10-lane pool would be more useful to the entire community, not just the Hyack Swim Club.

“What you have will eliminate the swim club – a pretty integral part of New West is the Hyack Swim Club,” he added.

Fast facts on aquatic and community centre as currently proposed:

* The city plans to build a new $100-million facility to replace the aging Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre. The new facility will be built in such a way that the existing facilities will remain open during construction.

* A leisure pool will includes space for swimming, lessons and a lazy river. It will also include sauna and steam rooms, hot pools and a tot zone.

* An eight-lane, 50-metre tank will provide space for length swimming, aquatic group fitness, swim lessons and leisure diving.

* Fitness spaces in the facility will provide a place for cardio, spin, free weights and stretching.

* The facility will also include: a gymnasium that can be used for basketball, volleyball, pickleball, badminton, floor hockey and other non-sport activities; multipurpose rooms; space for a daycare; and a “welcome centre” for informal gatherings, community events and a café.

* To make way for the new facility, the recycling depot and all-weather sports field will need to be removed. The city will consult with the community about options for the recycling depot and will consider upgrading an existing grass field to turf.

* Parking: A parking demand study found the project would require 423 parking spaces, but a more comprehensive traffic study will be done during the design phase. It’s proposed that parking for the aquatics and community centre, the Royal City Curling Club and the Glenbrook fire hall be consolidated on the site.

* The main vehicle access point for the site will be via Cumberland. A secondary right-in, right-out entry and exit would be on East Sixth Avenue.