Park upgrade but no pool

Mayor Richard Stewart at the opening of Rochester Pool several summers ago. - tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Mayor Richard Stewart at the opening of Rochester Pool several summers ago.
— image credit: tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

A Coquitlam park nearly half a century old will get a facelift next year but it won't have the one thing that neighbours have been asking for: a pool.

On Monday, city staff outlined a plan to update Rochester Park with a children's playground, water play zone, trails and picnic spaces.

The concept for the 10 acres, located between Rochester and Thomas avenues in Maillardville, will cost up to $4 million — money that city staff say will be hard to find given the recreational demands in other parts of Coquitlam.

In March, city council pushed staff to make the Rochester Park redevelopment a top priority and to tie the work with the daylighting of Como Creek. To add to the pressure was the presentation last month of a 531-signature petition by area residents to either reopen or rebuild the outdoor pool at the park. The aging pool was decommissioned in 2011 and filled with sand after years of failures and vandalism.

Councillors Mae Reid and Bonita Zarrillo said they were disappointed the park upgrade wouldn't include a new pool. "There's a heritage value there," Zarrillo said at the council-in-committee meeting while Reid voiced concern about the lack of amenities for teens.

But Coun. Brent Asmundson said an outdoor pool, which is open only during the summer, would be a "poor investment to spend our pennies on."

He also criticized council for not properly budgeting for parks maintenance. Many green spaces and rec facilities need to be spruced up, Asmundson said, and Rochester is one example where a public site has been neglected.

Coun. Craig Hodge said Rochester has been under-utilized because it hasn't been kept up but also said because Rochester is a community park — and not a destination such as nearby Mackin Park — the city could forgo some expensive items like washrooms or water play zone to save cash.

Further complicating the park redevelopment is the city's shared use with the adjacent Maillard middle school.

Raul Allueva, Coquitlam's acting general manager for parks, recreation and culture, said public access to the north side of the park can sometimes be a challenge as the small parking lot is also used by School District 43. He noted the teachers' strike has limited the use of the park.

Next month, city staff plan to meet with a community focus group — as well as the Maillard principal — to discuss the park plans; two open houses to gain public feedback are scheduled for September and November.


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