A Metro Vancouver plan for the redevelopment of the filled-in man-made swimming pool lake in Aldergrove will see the site used for hiking, biking, picnics and other dry-land family activities.
The Aldergrove Regional Park Management Plan was approved by the regional authority board of directors on July 26, a vote that clears the way for short-term “modest improvements” to the area where the 50-year-old cement-lined pool used to be, and a more ambitious long-range overhaul of the entire park.
The plan calls for re-introducing family activities at the pool area “with expansion of an accessible loop trail with picnicking, nature play and learning stations.”
The free pool was opened as “Aldergrove Beach” in 1963 by property owner Harry Keillor, and taken over by the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now known as Metro Vancouver) in 1969.
It served as a close-at-home summer vacation destination for thousands of Langley and Abbotsford residents until it was shut down in 2011 because of new B.C. Public Health Act regulations that defined the “lake” as a public swimming pool requiring an operating permit.
Metro Vancouver was unable to get an operating permit because the lake failed to meet minimum provincial water quality standards for swimming pools.
For example, pool standards require a six-hour turnover for filtration of the water, while the lake filters had a 49-hour turnover.
In June 2011, after Metro determined it would cost too much to rebuild the lake, crews with heavy earth moving equipment filled it in.
The former lake site now has a new name, the “Main Day-use and Blacktail Picnic Area.”
In a report to the Metro board meetings, Valoree Richmond, the Parks East area planner at Metro describes Blacktail as the “primary park destination” that offers a picnic shelter, washroom building and large capacity parking area for visitors.
The 280-hectare park on the Canada-US border (the main entrance to the park is located on 8 Avenue just east of 272 Street) attracted 342,000 visitors in 2012.
It provides 11.8 kilometres of pedestrian, cycling and equestrian trails, picnic grounds, nature study areas, a dog off-leash area, Camp Elkgrove children’s camp, and the Aldergrove Bowl Activity Area.
The Metro plan calls for more improvements to the whole park over the next 20 years at an estimated cost of $4 million.
Some of the planned changes include adding more trails, including one that allows dogs to be off-leash, as well as an “urban sky park” designation for the amateur astronomers who already use the area for nighttime viewing and “significant new wetland habitat” for wild birds in the Gordon’s Brook area.
The Richmond report said the proposed plan was “highly supported” at a September 2012 open house and a web survey.
“Comments indicated that the plan ‘provides something for everyone’ and the desire to ‘get going with it’,” Richmond wrote.