I attended my first all-candidates meeting of the campaign at Mount Pleasant Community Centre. The people of this community clearly stated that they wanted to retain a pool at this site in a public consultation that was carried out from 2003-05 when COPE had the majority on the Park Board. We know that the existing pool is over 40 years old and will some day become unrepairable, so the community wants a new, similar pool, built in its place.
The mechanical infrastructure needed to operate the pool is located in the community centre building, so if the building was demolished after the new community centre at #1 Kingsway opened, the pool would also have to be closed. This means that the existing community centre building needs to be retained for as long as the old pool remains open.
Mount Pleasant Community Centre offers Out-of-School Childcare and PreSchool programs and most of the children in before and after and kinderschool care attend Simon Fraser Elementary, which is adjacent to Mt Pleasant Community Park & the community centre. They want to retain their child care programs in the neighbourhood. While there is a plan to build a modular child care building on the school property, it is not expected to be complete until at least 2010. Many people at the all-candidates meeting spoke passionately about using the existing community centre building at least until the modular centre is built, and some would like to see the existing community centre upgraded so that child care and other programs reside there permanently.
The COPE-majority Park Board passed motions in Sept and October 2005 to retain a pool at Mount Pleasant and directed staff to meet with the community association and pool committee to come up with a concept for fundraising for a new pool. Under the NPA-majority Park Board that was elected in November 2005, nothing has happened around this for 3 years. The pool committee have talked to the local BIA and federal and provincial representatives about possible funding opportunities, but need the financial and technical information from staff to develop a concept for fundraising. If senior governments provided some of the money, the City and Park Board would also be expected to contribute (in addition to the community), but there is no money in the 2009-11 Capital Plan for this. There is $1 million from Development Cost Levy money from the previous capital plan which has restricted use (DCL’s can be used to develop park land, but not buildings – so the money would have to be sourced from something other than a DCL in order to be used towards building the pool).
COPE is in favour of retaining the pool at Mount Pleasant and is open to the existing building being used for community uses such as Child Care. We would work with the community on a fundraising plan and concept for a new pool, and have a public consultation around the use of the site and the possible longer-term use (which would require upgrading) of the existing building.
For some reason, both NPA Candidates Chris Richardson and Laura McDiarmid, who were commissioners during the 1999-2002 term of the Park Board, are stuck on the original plan for this existing Mt Pleasant site, which would see the pool and building demolished and the land greened into a park, and the "destination pool" at Hillcrest – which has a small "outdoor component"–would substitute for the larger, deeper outdoor pool at Mt Pleasant. While it is true that this neighbourhood is short of park space, the community has clearly stated on many occasions that they want an outdoor pool similar to the existing one. This is a rigid point of view that is not responsive to the community and refuses to consider that the old centralization model is becoming outdated. We need a progressive Park Board in Vancouver that listens to communities and is proactive in directing staff to respond to the community.