The long-anticipated Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in South Surrey is nearing completion, and is expected to open to the public in January.
The new facility, at 168 Street and 24 Avenue, is to feature a 50-metre competitive pool, a leisure pool, water slides, diving towers and also a weight room.
Though it won’t officially open until the new year, it is expected to be completed next month, and members of one local user group have told Peace Arch News they’ve been invited to check out the facility early.
In August, the pools were filled in order to test the mechanical systems, and waterside testing and other work took place earlier this month, according to the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre Facebook page.
The Grandview project has been in the works for nearly three years; it was announced in 2012 alongside plans for a similar pool in Guildford, and was originally expected to be completed by the summer of 2014. The Guildford Aquatic Centre opened last March.
However, despite delays with the Grandview project, Surrey city staff say it will come in on budget, and perhaps even under the $55-million price tag.
“We did our homework,” Jean Lamontagne, Surrey’s manager of planning and development told Black Press. “Hopefully we’ll actually have some money left over… I don’t recall the last time I had a project that went over. We’re very careful because at the end of the day that’s public money.”
On Sept. 14, staff received city council’s approval to spend an extra $95,000 on project management, but Lamontagne said the funds were within the budget.
“We just finished the Guildford pool recently and that one is under warranty and we’re finalizing deficiencies. We’re kind of busy with that one, so we decided to get a consultant to do that part of the work on this project,” he said.
The Grandview project has not been without detractors, dating back to 2012 when initial designs and plans were rolled out.
Back then, various user groups – including swim and diving clubs – banded together in an effort to convince the city to build something larger, in order to hold provincial and national-level swim meets. It would have also allowed multiple groups to use the pool at the same time, while also providing deck space for dry-land training.
The groups appeared as a delegation to city council in March 2012 and received what one member called “a frosty reception.”
Another member, Surrey’s Brittany Reimer – a Canadian Olympian – was also in attendance, saying “It’s too bad… a (bigger) facility is valuable for everyone.”
However, despite the earlier criticisms, most are now happy to see the pool nearing completion. If nothing else, it should ease the scheduling burden placed on the South Surrey Indoor Pool.
“I’ve heard it’s a gorgeous building, and even if it’s not perfect, it will still be better than where we’re at now, and it will be really nice for our kids not to have to go all the way downtown to train,” said White Rock Divers founder Bev Boys. “We’re very excited.”