Delayed Minoru pool and seniors' centre promises to be iconic

At $80 million it is Richmond's single-most expensive public facility in history

Richmond’s new pool and seniors’ centre — the Minoru Centre for Active Living — will open to the public as late as fall of this year, after initially being scheduled for opening in June, 2017.

The year-plus-long delay is attributed to poor winter weather and a labour shortage, according to City of Richmond spokesperson Kim Decker.

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“Assuming no more significant weather delays, we are on track for completing construction in the summer. This will be followed by an approximate staff training/commissioning period of about 6 to 8 weeks before the new facility can be open to the public,” said Decker, via email, following queries from the Richmond News.

Decker said the $80 million facility remains on budget. It is being constructed by developer Stuart Olson.

Updates on the project can be found at YourMinoru.ca.

“Once complete, the new Minoru Centre for Active Living will be an iconic 110,000 square feet facility located at the southwest corner of the Minoru Civic Precinct. The facility will house aquatic and fitness services, seniors’ services, and amenities to support the surrounding sports fields. It will replace the aging and outdated Minoru Aquatic Centre and Minoru Place Activity Centre as well as the former Minoru Pavilion,” noted the website.

After the city spent $118 million on the $178 million Richmond Olympic Oval, this is Richmond’s second-most expensive public infrastructure project in history, usurping Richmond City Hall, built in 2000 for about $40 million. It is the most expensive owned and operated facility as the Oval is operated by the Oval Corporation, a subsidiary.

It will be paid for largely with annual casino revenues. The city receives a 10 per cent cut from the River Rock Casino and Resort and budgets to receive about $18 million per year. Over the next 10 years the city will pay down a $50 million loan for the Minoru Centre for Active Living. The remaining $30 million comes from the capital projects reserve account that is funded by tax revenue as well as more casino funds.

When the facility's plans were first announced, many residents had expressed a desire for a larger, 50-metre pool. However, the extra cost for the bigger pool — $8 million — was considered prohibitive by Richmond city council.

The 110,000 square-foot complex will house improved aquatic spaces — including a 25-metre pool, hot tubs and a cold plunge pool — more dedicated space for seniors, a fitness centre, multi-purpose rooms and change rooms for outdoor athletes.

The new complex will replace the existing, 57-year-old Minoru Aquatic Centre and Minoru Seniors Centre, which will be demolished. There are no set plans as to what to do with that land although green space is being considered.

City staff have noted previously that the new aquatics facility should host a greater variety of pools and activities than what currently exists at Minoru.

The new seniors' centre will house a games room, activity room, fireplace lounge and woodworking shop, among other things.

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