Monday, February 4, 2013

First Look: $35.5 million Aldergrove Community Centre

Since the early 1990s, the Township of Langley has identified building an indoor pool as a long-term priority in Aldergrove. This was reconfirmed over various updates to the Township’s long-range recreation master plans. Planning for the indoor pool for Aldergrove started in earnest beginning in 2007, when the Township commissioned a study to get more detailed information on what should be included in a new aquatics centre.

The original plan was to construct the new aquatics centre next to the Aldergrove Kinsmen Community Centre, but in 2010 that plan shifted to building the facility on the former Aldergrove Elementary School site. This would tie in with the new Aldergrove Core Area Plan as a tool to help revitalize the area. The new aquatics centre would include the current services of Aldergrove Kinsmen Community Centre which would be decommissioned. A further study was commissioned to see if it made sense to move the Aldergrove Community Arena to the Aldergrove Elementary School site as well. The arena has less than a decade of useful life left and a triple-bottom line analysis from the study found that it made sense to relocate the rink. One of the main environmental features of the proposed co-location would be that the heat generated from creating ice would be used to heat the pools.

In September 2012, the Aldergrove Community Centre Standing Committee was established. The Standing Committee was formed to:

1. To guide the public consultation process;
2. Represent the community regarding the project; and
3. Be a fact finding committee, rather than a decision making committee

The final meeting of the standing committee was last week and they recommended the following for the Aldergrove Elementary School site based on public feedback.

Preferred concept plan for the Aldergrove Community Centre. Click image to enlarge.

3D overview of the preferred concept plan for the Aldergrove Community Centre. Click image to enlarge.

Indoor Aquatic Space
-Leisure Pool
-Lap Pool, ramp entry, 6 lane 25m
-Sauna & Steam Rooms
-Hot Pool

Community and Recreation Space
-Food Services
-Fitness Room
-Two Multipurpose Rooms
-Walking Track

Single Sheet Arena
-NHL ice sheet
-Skate Shop

The existing Aldergrove School would be demolished except for the heritage schoolhouse which would be renovated and integrated into the facility as the new Aldergrove library.

What I like about this proposed project is that it will provide a strong, pedestrian-friendly presence on Fraser Highway and will act as the western gateway to Aldergrove’s core. It is also good that the surface parking in the back of the facility.

What I’m finding a bit disturbing is the amount of surface parking in recent Township of Langley projects. The Langley Event Centre dedicates a large sum of land to surface parking and about half the footprint of this proposed Aldergrove facility will be surface parking. I’m surprised that the Township of Langley isn’t following best practices for building sustainable, walkable communities by putting at least a portion of the parking underground. I know it would add an extra 11% to the cost of the Aldergrove project to put all parking underground, but I wonder if that cost could be recovered by doing something more productive with the land that is currently designated for the parking lot.

The total estimated cost of the project is pegged at $35.5 million. There are some that say Aldergrove is not getting good value from being in the Township of Langley, but a project of this scale is only possible because Aldergrove is part of a larger community. With the $36.2 million earmarked to expanded water service in Eastern Langley which includes Aldergrove and the $17 million spent to extend Metro Vancouver sewer service to the community, I’d say that people in Aldergrove are getting a good deal by being in the Township of Langley.

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