By Andrew Mitchell
A new dehumidifier that will improve air quality in the Meadow Park pool has been lifted into place and will be ready to go online in the next few months, according to Roger Weetman, manager of program services and community liaison for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
The cost of the dehumidifier is close to $190,000, accounting for the bulk of $285,000 set aside for recreation improvements this year. That figure does not include other community centres or the work being done to upgrade Alpha Lake and Lakeside Park.
According to Weetman, recent investments in the sports centre have been made with long-term costs in mind.
“The unit we had was more than 10 years old and really needed replacing,” he said. “It’s our most significant expense this year, and should dramatically improve the air quality in the pool area.”
The pool was opened in 1994, and according to Weetman it is important to look at the expected life cycle of the facility and make investments that extend the life of the pool.
“That’s a big focus of our capital planning over the next few years,” he said. “It’s been determined that replacing this kind of equipment on an ongoing basis you can better prevent the possibility that suddenly you’ll have a million dollar job that needs to be done that could disrupt the public with a long shut down. We’ll do as many of those smaller improvements as we can during the time frame of the annual shut down to minimize the impact on the public.
“I can tell you that we’re in much better shape than other communities in B.C., where a lot of the facilities coincided with the 1967 centennial and all the grant money that was made available at the time. Those pools are 40 years old, and a lot of them are going to have to be replaced in the next few years.”
Other recreation upgrades from recent years include a new system in Meadow Park to control air conditioning and heating by electronic control, insulating heating lines, replacing pool pumps, installing a new ozone system for the pool, repairing paving in the parking lot, and switching to a 10-stage boiler that is more energy efficient at meeting demands for hot water in the showers.
Another $40,000 was spent this year to replace the lights in the Myrtle Philip Community Centre with brighter and more efficient fluorescent systems.
User statistics remain strong for Meadow Park Sports Centre, although Weetman says daily use is more dependent on weather than any other factors. Because it was a good winter for skiing and snowboarding, Weetman says numbers were lower than average on many days. However, during the rainy spring season, numbers have been above average.
“Overall I think the sports centre is busier,” he said. “There’s more recognition that it’s here from visitors, and it’s definitely more popular with families. With the rain our numbers are really starting to pick up.”