The City of Terrace says its recent open house regarding the ongoing Aquatic Centre renewal project was well-received by the public, who contributed many useful suggestions and comments about the project.
The July 12 open house had people from the firm who developed the redesign on hand as well, including Bruce Carscadden and Armen Mamourian of Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects from Vancouver.
In a meeting room at the Aquatic Centre, the architects and city staff had attached design plans for the project all around the walls for residents to look at and ask questions about.
If they were so inclined, people at the open house could leave a note with their own input, suggestions or ideas for Carscadden and the city’s consideration.
“The open house was received very well by the public,” said city leisure services foreman Floyd Mann, who is overseeing the project.
“We estimate that approximately 50-plus people attended the come-and-go open house. People have made verbal contributions and general comments regarding the proposed renovations the following couple days as well.”
Mann said the city expects there will be continual comments and suggestions incoming from the public, regular users and persons of all abilities.
Bruce Carscadden, whose firm has also been the architects for aquatic centre projects in Nelson, Penticton and elsewhere, said the open house was a success because people in the community here have a vested interest in maintaining a quality recreation centre.
“People are passionately interested in their pool and they’re really interested in what’s going to happen next. I thought the turnout was good and I thought the comments we received were all very valuable.”
“We’ll suggest some adjustments to our design,” Carscadden said.
Mann outlined several general areas that he said the public and users seemed to focus their attention on during the open house.
“Many people are happy that the assemble ramp is being proposed for all three pools that would help people access the pool for therapeutic reasons and reasons that would make assess to the pool difficult without the ramp,” Mann said.
He also said the concept of implementing a family change room, something the aquatic centre is currently without, received many positive comments.
“The new addition and relocation of the gym was considered an improvement by many users as the space being proposed is very airy and bright due to the windows,” Mann said.
But it was the centre’s leisure pool that drew the most interest and comments from people.
“People who have families were very interested in seeing some improvements to the leisure pool area that would increase the depth of the water, and to have easy access to the family change rooms,” Mann said.
Carscadden added that he believed that Terrace residents were quite familiar with the facilities in Kitimat that have recently been constructed and renovated. “They are hoping that we can achieve something of that ilk,” Carscadden said.
“We are starting with something that was originally called a ‘wading pool’ – it’s only seven inches deep in the shallow end and a lot of the solutions we were looking at were how we could create something more like the modern leisure pool experience,” Carscadden said.
He said that a wading pool seems to imply “kiddie pool,” whereas a modern leisure pool would imply it is intended for kids to seniors.
“A lot of the water features that kids like to play in are also water features that perhaps adults enjoy for therapeutic value, like water gushing on your shoulder or lazy rivers that you use for resistance training.”
The aquatic centre renewal is being paid for through a $4.3 million government rebate of taxes paid at the gas pumps.
The city was initially going to enact a phased-in approach to the redesign starting in 2019.
However, it is set to start this year due to the tax rebate.
Now that an open house has been held for the aquatic centre, Carscadden said the next step is estimating costs for the project, including new iterations suggested by the public.
He expects the cost estimations to occur in early August and then they will be requesting tenders for the project come October.
“We hope to have construction begin early spring to late winter,” Carscadden said.
The Terrace Aquatic Centre serves upwards of 20,000 people in the northwest region. It is one of the most well-used facilities in the area.
The renewal and redesign is the first major overhaul the centre has had in some time. The centre was first opened in 1974 and it received aquatic additions in 1987. The lobby was heavily renovated in 1998.
When the centre undergoes this most recent renovation, the usage of the facility’s pool could be halted for some time, up to 10 months.
Mann said the city is aware that closure for construction is a concern for regular users and by those who use the pool for therapeutic reasons.
“The city has this concern under consideration and will explore what options may be available to users,” Mann said.