Editorial: Put a lid on it

Indoor pool the better option for Aldergrove

It may still be a few years down the road, but it looks like Aldergrove will finally be getting its long-awaited aquatic centre.

Exactly what it will look like remains to be seen, but at Monday night’s meeting Township Council narrowed the choices to two options, which the public will be asked to consider.

The first calls for a six-lane indoor swimming pool, along with a range of amenities, that would cost an estimated $34.8 million to build.

The second design is for an outdoor pool — also six lanes wide, and also with a few other bells and whistles — at a cost of $33.4 million.

A committee, made up of area residents who have been pushing the Township to move ahead on a pool for the community, wants the Township to put a lid on it.

A covered pool, they say, is the better option. And they’re right.

It only makes sense to build an indoor facility, because an outdoor pool, while a lot of fun in the summer sun, is a bit of a white elephant the rest of the year.

The cost difference of $1.4 million to build, is a drop in the bucket, really, when one considers the overall cost  and the difference in the amount of use one will get over the other.

Take the City of Langley, for example. It operates Al Anderson Memorial Pool, an outdoor swimming facility which is open roughly four months of the year, from May to August. And while it’s a popular place to gather during the summer, during the remaining eight months it sits empty.

While City residents have the option of popping over to the Blair pool or grabbing a bus to Walnut Grove, that’s a little tougher to do in a community as poorly served by the transit system as Aldergrove is.

Having a local facility that is potentially open just a third of the year is only marginally better than having nothing at all. Families without vehicles and teens without drivers’ licences will be left in the exact position from September to April as they are now — with no easy means to go for a swim.

And for those who really treasure the opportunity to swim in the great outdoors, both Langley City and the City of Abbotsford have facilities a few miles down the road in either direction.

Then again, there may be a bit of middle ground to be had. Designers can always come up with something similar to the Walnut Grove facility, which boasts a retractable wall that can be opened wide to allow fresh air to circulate on sunny days.

Once it’s built, the new Aldergrove pool will no doubt be a splashy facility.

We say, top it off with a roof and make it a year-round place to play.