Edmonds: From no pool at all to the best in Burnaby

In a sign that Edmonds Town Centre is in the midst of a major revitalization, the neighbourhood that never had a public swimming pool to begin with will soon have the swankiest one in Burnaby.

"We feel it's cutting edge," said Burnaby parks and recreation director Dave Ellenwood during a tour of the new $32-million Edmonds Community Centre and Pool last week. "It should be really cool for people to experience."

Expected to open in early June, the Fred Randall Pool, named after the late local city alderman and MLA, will be in the style of Eileen Dailly Pool with its hot tub and leisure component, but with some of the latest bells and whistles.

Along with a six-lane, 25-metre-long pool, the facility boasts two waterslides, an extra-large hot tub, sauna and steam room. The leisure pool's kid-friendly features include a "lazy river," bubble bench, spray arches, a mini-playground structure and a large dumping bucket.

A two-lane, 15-metre long pool will have a warmer water temperature to accommodate people using it for rehabilitation, aquafit and lessons for young children.

And it's all fully accessible for people with disabilities, including a water elevator into the swim tank, a ramp with handrail into the whirlpool and zero-depth entry into the leisure pool from deck level.

The pool will be larger than most other facilities in the Lower Mainland, said Ellenwood, who noted the leisure components are very popular. "We'll get 1,500 to 2,000 visits a day by all ages."

It will also use the most up-to-date water disinfection technology—liquid chlorine, filtering sand and an ultraviolet system.

Most of the tile work was close to being completed during the tour and the pool is set to be filled and tested sometime this week.

Just across the hall will be another welcome addition to the community, a massive double gym that can be divided into four sections and is designed to receive lots of natural light, particularly from one corner made almost entirely of glass.

"This should take a lot of pressure off existing gym facilities," he said, noting the very high demand seen at Bonsor Rec Centre. "We needed this not only for this community but for all of South Burnaby."

An adjacent youth lounge comes with its own exterior entrance and door to the gym making it possible to eventually keep the youth centre open later while closing off the rest of the facility, said Ellenwood.

For now, the nearby KRIB youth centre will continue to operate but could eventually be phased out in favour of the new facility, he said.

Ellenwood noted that the games room, with foosball, a big TV and a pool table, is not exclusively for use by youth and will be located next to the seniors' snooker room on the second floor. "Hopefully the youth will integrate with the seniors. They'll have to co-exist with the seniors, which I think is healthy."

Also expected to take the pressure off Bonsor is the new cardio and weight room. At 650 square metres (7,000 square feet), it is 10 times larger than the similar facility at the old Eastburn Community Centre, and significantly bigger than Bonsor's which is about 4,500 square feet spread over two levels.

"It's very large but very large for a purpose because of high demand," he said.

Once the new community centre is finished, the fitness and weight-room equipment will be moved in, including new pieces and those from the interim fitness centre on Kingsway, which were purchased second-hand after being used by athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Along with the snooker room, the new seniors centre will include a lounge and access to a number of other multi-purpose rooms for all ages, such as a dance and fitness room with a sprungwood floor and mirrors and a fine arts room. Two music rooms are also set up with acoustic baffling, providing soundproofing to allow for music lessons.

At the other end of the age spectrum, a large new playground will soon be built at the newly named Edmonds Park (formerly Richmond Park) next door, but the centre will also offer a rainy-day option indoors.

A small indoor playground will be located on the main floor next to a "playcare," where children can be supervised while parents are at activities elsewhere in the building, and a preschool.

The facility will serve the community while also being built to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard of sustainability.

White roofs will reflect heat away from the building, keeping it cooler in the summer. It features high-efficient water fixtures and lighting, and a heating system that recycles the hot air from the building's exhaust and uses it to heat water in the pool and plumbing systems. An aero-thermal heat pump operates four times more efficiently than traditional high-efficiency boilers.

Rain gardens and bioswales outside help filter water runoff from sidewalks and surface parking areas. And some of the slat ceilings around the reception desk are made of pine-beetle-killed wood.

And in something of an homage, architects at CEI Architecture designed the brick work inside and out to be similar to that of the former Eastburn community centre, although the slender, light-tan-coloured bricks are new.

Between the underground parkade, and surface spots onsite and on Humphries Avenue, there are 210 parking stalls.

The facility will have 77 full-time-equivalent staff, of whom 25 used to work at Eastburn and have been at other city facilities in the meantime during construction of the new centre. Of the 53 brand new staff, about 75 per cent have already been hired.

Once opened, the new Edmonds centre will be open 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day, Ellenwood said. Weekday hours will be from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., with an earlier closing on weekends.

Ellenwood expects the community centre will be well used by the surrounding community, which has many lower income and immigrant families.

It appears the centre is ready for it. Pointing out a fireplace located next to the children's area, he noted the space was designed along the theme of a "community living room."

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