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Planned Grandview pool 'too small before they even start'

A new pool at Grandview Heights will help ease a packed swim schedule at the South Surrey Indoor Pool. Below, the proposed location of the new facility, in the northeast corner of the 24 Avenue and 168 Street intersection. - File photo
A new pool at Grandview Heights will help ease a packed swim schedule at the South Surrey Indoor Pool. Below, the proposed location of the new facility, in the northeast corner of the 24 Avenue and 168 Street intersection.
— image credit: File photo

A new aquatic centre planned for South Surrey’s Grandview Heights neighbourhood is being met with mixed reviews from the area’s user groups.

Interest groups were consulted in the fall, and many area neighbours learned last week of the plans for 168 Street and 24 Avenue when the request for proposals was posted on the City of Surrey’s website.

While most South Surrey aquatic clubs were excited by the idea of a new pool – which would replace or supplement the current South Surrey pool, considered too small for most groups’ needs – the general consensus is that the planned project, for a 50-metre-long pool, is too small.

Surrey Coun. Tom Gill, who sits on Surrey’s parks commission, said Tuesday that the design phase for the centre would not be finalized until 2012 – potentially leaving opportunity for revisions – but the request for proposals states “the aquatic complex will include one FINA-certified 50m competition venue pool tank” among other amenities.

Requests for proposals for the $51.9-million project closed Monday afternoon.

“Anything is an improvement, but why build it so small when they know it’s too small?” said White Rock Divers owner Bev Boys.

“For competitive meets, all you need is 50 metres, but for practice and everything else, you need more.”

The issue, Boys says, is that most user groups – especially groups with school-aged members – want to use the pool at the same time, thus forcing them to divvy up space.

As a solution, she suggested a 75-metre tank so that a swim club could use the required 50 metres, while another group, be it divers or synchronized swimmers, could use the remaining 25.

Plans for the centre include a “lifestyle pool” for public use.

Pacific Sea Wolves Swim Club head coach Brad Dingey echoed Boys’ statements, saying a larger competitive pool is necessary.

“In theory, any new pool is a positive, but as far as the details, I worry that we’d end up like what they have in Fleetwood, which is a 50-metre pool that isn’t all that bloody useful,” he said. “They only have eight hours a week when the pool is open to use the full 50 metres, and it’s all before 7:30 in the morning.”

A 50-metre pool would likely be too small to host provincial or national swim meets, he added.

A larger pool would allow swim and diving clubs to grow, Boys said, noting many athletes are forced to move to other clubs.

“We could quadruple our numbers if we had the pool time,” she said.  “With the number of people moving into South Surrey… it warrants a much bigger facility. The way it is now, it will be too small before they even start.”

But Gill wants it clear that the “design hasn’t been done.”

“There’s still ample time for adjustments,” he said.

Once the design phase for the Grandview pool is complete next year, construction is to begin in 2013, with completion expected by summer of 2014.

Gill noted the Grandview facility could be part of a larger project in the area. Parks director Laurie Cavan suggested that could one day include an athletic park.

“We are planning it in such a way that we can design and add new phases in the future, even if that is 10 or 15 years away,” Cavan said.

Gill would not confirm location details for the planned pool, saying those decisions were being discussed “in-camera,” however the city’s request for proposals listed the northeast corner of 168 Street and 24 Avenue.

Cavan confirmed the location.

“The city has acquired some land there,” she said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for South Surrey.”

“We are planning it in such a way that we can design and add new phases in the future, even if that is 10 or 15 years away,” Cavan said.

Gill said the pool would be a welcome component.

“Without question, there’s significant demands for this type of facility,” said Gill.

Grandview resident Ken Bailey, who lives a few blocks away from the intersection, heard about the plan from a neighbour.

And while he was surprised to learn of it – having sat on the advisory board of Grandview’s Neighbour Community Plan with the subject of an aquatic centre never coming up – he was excited to hear it’s in the works.

“My initial reaction is that it’s a very good thing for the area. It will just be a nice facility to have,” he said.

Boys too, was cautiously optimistic.

“I’m excited. I just hope it’s big enough.”

 

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