Although city staff said they are "comfortable" with the timeline established for building a recreation centre in northeast Coquitlam, some council members aren't.
Project lead Carmen Gonzalez told council Monday that city staff are "comfortable with the time frames that have been established" for the project, which would have it completed by 2026 or 2027.
But Burke Mountain's growing population is putting pressure on facilities in the City Centre and a new recreation centre is needed in the northeast sooner rather than later, said some city councillors, echoing a refrain many of them sung two years ago when the city's parks master plan was adopted, although a motion to speed up the process to 2000 to 2024 was defeated at that time 5-4.
“I would like to see us put the foot to the pedal because we are at capacity here," Coun. Craig Hodge said of City Centre. “As far as I’m concerned, we can’t move fast enough.”
“I think you’re getting the impression at the frustration from all of us about how long this takes," Coun. Chris Wilson said. “It just seems like a really long time for an area that is growing. I know we’re busy and we have lots going on, but is it really necessary for us to be looking at 2026/’27?”
Hodge told The Tri-City News he was happy at least the aim is now to have the centre completed by 2027 and not to start construction by then.
The report said the population surge in Burke Mountain has meant City Centre Aquatic Complex and Pinetree community centre are absorbing demand "much quicker than existing planning documents had anticipated." Use of the two facilities is near or past capacity — 87% for the aquatic complex and 98% at Pinetree — with limited additional capabilities to meet growth demands. The report noted planning for increased services at those facilities is also underway, including an estimated cost to expand and renovate the aquatic complex of approximately $4.5 million.
In 2018, council began setting aside $500,000 a year in community amenity contributions for a rec centre on Burke Mountain. The report said the city will make the northeast centre a top priority in its 2020 business plan. Three firms have been identified by the city to plan the new centre, including what facilities would be built. Gonzalez told council the chosen firm should be able to do so by May 2020 but some councillors said that deadline should be even earlier.
"Tighten the timeline on the consultants," said Coun. Dennis Marsden. “I would love to see it completed sooner than 2026.”
Marsden also called plans for expanding the current city centre facilities "a $4.5-million Band-Aid."
But deputy city manager — and former parks and recreation general manager — Raul Allueva said a new YMCA set to open in 2021 in Burquitlam and renovations to Place Maillardville community centre, scheduled to be completed by 2021, as well as other projects should relieve some of the pressure on the aquatic complex and Pinetree. Allueva also said the timeline allows for the new community centre to be integrated properly with Burke Mountain Village, which is still being developed.
Allueva said the community centre's evolution depends on a number of decisions that still have to be made and those might be four or five years down the road.
“That’s not uncommon in projects of this size,” he said.
But Coun. Brent Asmundson said there's nothing wrong with building the rec centre first and having development go up around it. He said facilities such as an arena would drive density and commercial/retail businesses to Burke Mountain.
“We have to step up and make that commitment to that area, and once that happens, things will flow from that," Asmundson said.