A long-term vision for one of Coquitlam’s oldest parks is moving ahead.
But concerns about the loss of the wading pool at Blue Mountain Park continue to split the community and city council.
Last Monday (April 3), the city’s council-in-committee heard an update regarding the Blue Mountain Park Master Plan, a proposed blueprint as the Austin Heights neighbourhood grows with new surrounding residents. (Couns. Steve Kim and Dennis Marsden did not attend.)
According to a 2021 survey by the municipality, respondents listed their priorities for the future of the 20-acre park:
THE FIELD (western side)
- preservation of the baseball diamond
- paved pathway updates along Blue Mountain Street
- better park entry
- more lighting
- more group exercise programs
- more outdoor fitness
THE CORE (middle section)
- new washrooms
- enhanced playground
- more picnic areas
- new event space
THE GROVE (eastern side)
- pickleball improvements
- new lit paved paths
- more picnic areas
- circuit training opportunities
- artistic elements
Still, some councillors zeroed on the upcoming loss of the aging Scout Hall, at the northeastern end, as well as the possible replacement within the park of the cenotaph and the decommissioning of the wading pool — the latter a topic that came up repeatedly during the last civic election campaign, said Couns. Craig Hodge and Robert Mazzarolo.
“I’m not sure that taking out the wading pool is necessarily what the community wants or envisions,” Hodge said, adding, “It has been a key element of this park for a long period of time. We have to give it more consideration.”
Mazzarolo harkened to the history of the wading pool, saying it “binds multi-generations. We really need to be careful if we’re going to be moving that…. I think it does have some value that you can’t really calculate.”
But Mayor Richard Stewart and Couns. Brent Asmundson and Teri Towner sided with city managers who said the pool is too old and out of date, and Spani Pool — some 15 city blocks away — will have a new leisure pool when the facility reopens in 2024.
Stewart said the wading pool “has challenges associated with it. You can’t save this wading pool. I’m hopeful that we don’t get residents bogged down on the possibility that a wading pool built before my parents were born… should have a future. It might be misplacing or misdirecting residents in contemplating the realm of things we would do.”
Still, Coun. Trish Mandewo said council has received lots of emails from area residents, urging council to save the wading pool given the distance to Spani.
“It’s not about the pool itself; it’s about the experience,” acknowledged Doron Fishman, Coquitlam’s park planning and design manager, while saying city staff would be in touch with Fraser Health to look at costs to bring the tank up to code.
Another round of public consultation on the Blue Mountain Park Master Plan is expected this summer or fall once the concept and land-use plan are put before city council for consideration; a third round will be held in the spring of 2024.