Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature, call it “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs [after the federal election Sept. 20] each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online each Sunday.
Langley City councillors are being asked: With Langley City’s population predicted to grow significantly in the next few years, should the City be building its own indoor pool?
Mayor Val van den Broek
A. I believe former council members (four of whom are current council members) had two great opportunities to create an indoor swimming pool, and unfortunately never acted on it.
When Al Anderson Pool was renovated in 2010, it would have been beneficial to enclose it as it’s only used for a couple of months during the summer.
In June 2014, the new Timms Recreation Centre plan was unveiled, and no pool was included in our health and fitness centre for City residents.
A pool is an essential part of a community, as it has health benefits for all age ranges, it encourages family fitness, fosters community bonding, and creates jobs for a lot of youths.
I will continue to advocate for having one. And, as we see more revitalization happening, maybe there is opportunity for a partnership or a developer to build a Great Wolf Lodge type property within Langley City.
Councillor Paul Albrecht
A. Yes I would support the construction of an indoor pool, if the community supported it.
The real question is obtaining the funding required to build such a facility.
It would be a substantial commitment financially that our residents would be required to support.
The tax increase would be substantial and a transparent process is critical in making such a project a reality.
Councillor Teri James
A. The City takes great pride in Al Anderson pool, as it is one of the nicest outdoor swimming pools in the Lower Mainland.
Several years ago, we met with different user groups and created a report that looked at different addition and renovation alternatives, one of those being to cover the pool with a retractable roof.
Although the overall cost to cover the pool was prohibitive at the time, the City did follow up with extensive improvements including the main entrance, creating admin and office space, building an extension that includes a multi-purpose room, expanded and upgraded washrooms and changerooms, and creating functional storage and service areas that included a concession.
Land in Langley City is limited, but I would personally welcome another consultation with user groups and citizens to see how they feel about the covering of Al Anderson pool versus the construction of an indoor pool.
I have always liked the idea of putting a retractable roof on Al Anderson pool, but if the consensus from the community is to look into an indoor pool, then I would welcome the opportunity to explore that, as well.
Councillor Gayle Martin
A. No, I do not think Langley City should be building its own indoor pool.
The size of our community, in my opinion, does not warrant a separate indoor pool.
We have a wonderful amenity in Al Anderson outdoor pool.
I could envision enclosing Al Anderson for use in the fall/winter months. However, this has been suggested in the past, and it appears the public prefer to keep Al Anderson as it is.
Councillor Nathan Pachal
A. Having growing up in Vernon, I took full advantage of the indoor pool in my hometown during the winter months.
As our community grows, I think it makes sense to investigate building an indoor pool.
Councillor Rudy Storteboom
A. I like the idea of having an indoor swimming pool in Langley City. However, the cost of construction and operating expenses are really prohibitive.
Even when built to code and with the right materials, maintenance and repair costs for pools can be significant; for what is essentially a seasonal amenity. Plus, the chemicals used to keep the pool clean can be a health hazard and actually cause the building to deteriorate prematurely.
Please consider that building an indoor pool is a highly specialized and expensive project with borrowing costs that cannot be expected to be offset by income.
The need to control the indoor atmosphere with safe ventilation, correct humidity, and comfortable heating has to be a carefully controlled to keep swimmers safe and warm.
Plus, extended exposure to pool chemicals can be harmful to the health of employees and pool users. According to WorkSafe BC, “Poor indoor air quality is a significant hazard in indoor pools.”
For me, the real question is whether or not the expense of building and maintaining an indoor pool is a good use of taxpayer funds, when considering other necessary expenditures?
The attractive idea of having an indoor pool and the cost of paying for it are two competing realities that need to be seriously considered before moving forward with a commitment to build.
In my opinion, now is not the time and going it alone to construct an indoor pool would likely overburden taxpayer resources for years to come.
Councillor Rosemary Wallace
A. Langley City is continuing to grow in population and the desire to have a indoor swimming pool might be something the general population would like. But that would come at a heavy cost.
The City is fortunate to have an outdoor pool in the middle of the City, and indoor pool in close proximity just outside the City in Murrayville.
The idea of covering the outdoor pool to allow for year-round use would be another heavy cost to the taxpayer – both in structure and operating.
The existing outdoor pool has had many upgrades affording more opportunities for programming and teaching. The existing outdoor pool is extremely well used during the spring and summer months.
The City is undertaking a parks and recreation master plan engaging Langley City residents for feedback through a survey. This is where citizens can express their desires for future programming and facilities.
Larger infrastructure projects, like an indoor swimming pool and a performing arts and culture centre both require capital and operating funding.
I guess at the end of the day, it is what is most desired along with meeting the needs of running a City. As much as it would be nice to have an indoor pool, it would be nice to afford the experience of a performing arts and cultural centre, where there is space for programming for everyone to enjoy.
Next week’s Langley Township councillors are being asked: Should the Township mandate that all people working for the municipality be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Watch for their answers online next Sunday.