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More swimming lanes in future $152M Coquitlam rec centre

Coquitlam is starting the design phase on the new Northeast Community Centre on Burke Mountain.

A bigger pool, a double gym and a 10,000 sq. ft. library branch.

Those are the changes to the preliminary plans for Coquitlam's new Northeast Community Centre (NECC) as revealed at Monday’s (July 31) council-in-committee meeting.

The final program tweaks to the upcoming recreation centre come as a result of public feedback to suit the growing needs for current and future residents on Burke Mountain, Ted Uhrich, the city’s manager of parks and facility planning, told the committee.

Instead of the initial four lanes envisioned for the new lap pool, there will now be six lanes plus a leisure pool with two lanes, a whirlpool, sauna and steam room.

As well, there will be a double gym for sports, large fitness classes, special events and camps for youth, in addition to a third branch for the Coquitlam Public Library.

Now, Uhrich said, a project management team will be hired to steer the building of the $152-million venue that's designed to be a social, learning and play hub next to the yet-unbuilt Burke Mountain Village — the commercial zone in the Partington Creek neighbourhood.

This fall, the city will assemble a design team to start the concept design; the rec centre, as well as its adjacent park and plaza, are expected to be ready by late 2027.

City manager Raul Allueva said Coquitlam staff have had "lots of rounds of review" with Burke residents and stakeholders to finalize the program needs and wants at NECC.

Two years ago, the city proposed an aquatics centre slightly smaller than the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, with a four-lane lap pool and leisure tank.

Coun. Craig Hodge, a former Burke Mountain resident, said he's pleased municipal staff revisited the pool plans and are "building for the future" with more lanes.

The move will allow the city to offer more swimming lessons, which are hard to come by, Coun. Matt Djonlic noted. "Swimming is a life skill," Coun. Teri Towner added.

Hodge also expects the new civic gyms to be well-used. The most recently built city gym was in the updated Maillardville Community Centre but, before that, the City of Coquitlam relied on School District 43 for decades for gym space, Coun. Dennis Marsden said.

Hodge also pointed out the future outdoor amenities next to NECC, noting he envisions the rec centre to be a mecca for mountain bikers and hikers heading up to Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, a 380 sq-km. area of which BC Parks is now creating a master plan.

Still, Djonlic, who served eight years as a library trustee, said the library branch is smaller than what residents are used to and it may not have enough meeting space.

Later this year, city staff and library personnel will complete a Library Services and Spaces Study that will include workshops with council and the board, Uhrich said.

City staff will be working on the major capital project with the Kwikwetlem First Nation, too, as Reconciliation is one of four major themes for Coquitlam in 2023.

Meanwhile, Coun. Trish Mandewo called on the city to provide more racket ball courts given the recent rule changes; however, Allueva said those sports are declining.

Earlier this year, council OK'd $132 million to build the NECC as part of its five-year financial plan. Funding is coming from existing city reserves and future development cost charges (DCC) through debt financing, according to a July 24 report from Lanny Englund, Coquitlam's general manager of parks, recreation, culture and facilities.

The net cost to run NECC, including costs for the library and park/plaza, is estimated at $8 million a year, Englund said.