Port Coquitlam's aging Centennial Pool is in desperate need of an upgrade and the PoCo Marlins have several ideas for what a new facility should look like.
The swim club took it upon itself to hire a design firm to put together renderings for a new outdoor pool at Aggie Park, plans that include a separated 10-lane lap pool, a dive tank and leisure area complete with waterslides and a lazy river. Rick Sieb, the ways and means director for the Marlins, said both the club and the city would like to see a destination facility that would attract people from beyond the immediate neighbourhood.
"Instead of kids being dropped off for an hour-long public swim, they want families coming to spend the day," he said. "We want a destination facility."
An improved pool would attract larger tournaments and championship swim meets, which Sieb said would have economic spinoffs for the city. On average, more than 1,000 people turn up to the larger events, he said, spending money at restaurants and hotels. Sieb added that a larger outdoor pool would also increase use of the pool, which would help cover the costs of operating the facility.
It is no coincidence that the timing for the pool announcement has come in the middle of the civic election campaign. Sieb said candidates running for mayor and council should take a good look at the plans and state whether they support allocating funding for an improved facility.
"We want to get some exposure on this plan," he said. "Some of the existing councillors have seen it and support it. Some of the people running have seen it and support it."
But it could be several years before the plans and renderings put forward by the Marlins are turned into reality, according Barry Becker, the city's manager of parks and recreation. Currently, there is no money available in the five-year capital plan to replace Centennial Pool, which was built in 1958. He said the city is considering budgeting for a study on the future of outdoor pools, which would look at the costs of facility upgrades and replacement.
"There is a need to start to look for what to do with those aging outdoor pools," Becker said. "In our 2012 budget, which still needs to be considered, we plan to do a study on our outdoor pools at the city level."
The city also has to consider how much money it wishes to spend on a facility that is only open for four months a year, he added.
Becker has seen the pool plans put forward by the PoCo Marlins and said the preliminary concepts of a destination facility do match a model used by successful municipal outdoor pools in other Lower Mainland cities.