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Richmond aquatics centre opening delayed

The base has shifted on one of the six pools at the Minoru Centre for Active Living
Minoru Centre
The Minoru Centre for Active Living will partially open on March 11, but the aquatics and fitness centre opening has been delayed.

Leakage has caused a concrete base in one of the six pools at the Minoru Centre for Active Living to shift, further delaying the opening of the new aquatics and fitness centre.

The seniors centre and events centre will open on March 11 as previously scheduled, but an assessment is currently underway on the pool to determine the scope of the repairs needed and the timeline.

The shift was discovered when the pool was being filled and emptied in preparation for the opening, explained city spokesperson Ted Townsend. Refunds will be given to anyone who registered in anticipation of the programs being offered in the new facility.

In the meantime, the Minoru Aquatic Centre will remain open for swimming.

Council recently decided, in a tight 5-4 vote, to keep the Minoru Aquatic Centre building and repurpose it for other uses after the new aquatics centre opens. 

While some councillors argued for keeping it as it was a city asset, others felt the cost of fixing it up and the limited activities that could take place didn’t make it worthwhile saving. Council decided last year to spend $3.4 million to demolish the building when the new centre opened.

Coun. Carol Day said it makes more sense to spend $300,000 on refurbishing the building than $3.4 million on demolishing it.

“We were told the building has 10 years of life left in it,” Day said. “So why not spend a small amount of money to repurpose that building.”

Coun. Linda McPhail said she heard from people that they wanted the space converted back to park, and she didn’t support the motion of keeping the building. While the cost to demolish it is estimated at $3.4 million, that is part of “asset management,” she said, and, besides, it will need to be demolished in 10 years and it will cost even more then.

“I believe Minoru Park is the green heart of Richmond and our duty is to put that space back into park,” McPhail said.

Coun. Alexa Loo told council on Monday evening that, through the consultation process on the park, the public indicated they wanted more park, not more buildings. Because of its age and possible mould and asbestos, no strenuous activities like wrestling and ballet will be possible in the building, she added.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said he never thought when the Minoru Centre for Active Living was planned that the old pool would be saved.

Keeping the building will be “very damaging” to the environment, he said, adding that it is “inefficient in every single way.”  With the densification happening in the city centre, Brodie said there’s a need for greenspace, something that is as important as the agricultural land the city works to protect.

“We need not an old building where people can go and play their table tennis and darts and carpet bowl because they have plenty of other places to go and do that,” Brodie said. “What we need to do is to make a statement that we want greenspace, we want this to go back to greenspace.”

The decision was already made to decommission and demolish the building, Brodie said, and with no heritage value, it will be just cause problems and cost money for the city in exchange for very limited usage for 10 years.

Loo, McPhail, McNulty and mayor voted against keeping the old pool.