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Oprah re-energizes Aldergrove pool plan

 

Tired of listening to herself complain about a lack of a year-round swimming pool in Aldergrove, Joanne Nicolato decided to do something about it.

Enter the Aldergrove Pool Committee, a group of 12 swim enthusiasts whose ambition is to have an indoor pool and recreation centre’s completely built in the core of Aldergrove before October 2014.

Nicolato’s family is part of Aldergrove’s Million-Dollar Neighbourhood reality-TV project, featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The show (still airing) aims to help 100 local families increase their collective net worth by an average of $100,000 a week over 10 weeks.

“When I started the Million-Dollar Neighbourhood thing, I just did it for the finances,” Nicolato says.

“But in the whole process, I found a huge sense of community spirit and I thought, I’m going to do something for this town. I’m tired of listening to myself complain, “Where’s the pool? There needs to be one here I thought, ‘I’m going to make it happen.”

The new-pool idea isn’t new, of course. It’s been on local wish-lists for a long time.

In 2007, [Township of Langley planners] had a couple of possible pool options and a day at the Kinsmen Centre for people to come and look at them, she says.

“I did not like any of them because our family is a swim-club family and what Aldergrove needs is something they can do year-round and it didn’t seem as if this was happening.”

When the planners left with those proposals, that was it. Nothing happened. Then in 2011, the artificial swimming pool at Aldergrove Lake Park was shut down.

So, with all the public fanfare over the Million-Dollar Neighbourhood show, Nicolato thought: Aldergrove is going to be in the limelight and we need [a new swimming facility] now.

She looked around at her Million-Dollar’s family and was amazed by what all these people can accomplish in five or six days.‚

“It was like, ‘We can do this. We can totally do this.’ You take these Million-Dollar people and you spread them into the rest of the community and we will get something done.”

The pool committee is conducting an online survey (www.aldergrovereccenter.ca) and recenlty supporters were at four local stores, the Otter Co-op, Save-On Foods, Extra Foods and Safeway to survey shoppers who might not wish to go online. The survey deadline is April 30.

The group hosted an open meeting at the Aldergrove Legion on March 12. And they plan a delegation to Township council during the month.

Township Coun. Bob Long made the idea of a new community pool part of his re-election platform last November.

He welcomes the initiative of the pool committee but points to its potential $20-million cost and Aldergrove’s smaller population base of around 11,000 residents.

“I’ve been working on this project for a number of years and it’s not an easy one. It’s going to take some really creative work to find a way to finance it and pull it off. We need to get a design that people will buy into. Council has money in the budget for a revamp of the design . . . We’ve identified a location [the now-closed Aldergrove Elementary School that is owned by the Langley School District].

“It’s always nice when the community gets involved in something . . . we know Aldergrove’s needed a pool, like for ever, but it’s having the resources to pay for it that’s the number one thing and, with the population we have, it’s a challenge. That’s why we did the revamp of the downtown plan, trying to get the density up,” he said.

The pool committee doesn’t quibble with Long’s $20-million ballpark figure “It’ll be a lot,” acknowledges Nicolato who knows it has an uphill fundraising fight.

“I think we can do the impossible,” says Nicolato.  “We’re going to ask for the moon and then go with that.”

 

Janet Ingram-Johnson

Black Press

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