A victim of its own success: Aldergrove waterpark is too awesome

Aldergrove residents have been frustrated by the lack access to their local waterpark due to capacity limits. The unique facility is a big draw in the summer for Township residents and even those from neighbouring communities.

By Joti Grewal | August 9, 2022 |5:00 am

The Aldergrove waterpark is for everyone.

That’s the view of Langley Township council despite some frustrated residents who find it difficult to secure a reservation to access the unique waterpark.

Officially called the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience, the waterpark at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre has become a popular destination since it opened four years ago. It boasts a warm water pool, lazy river, rope swing, a tidal pool, waterslides, and many spray features. The township advertises the aquatic centre as the “Lower Mainland’s most affordable waterpark.” An adult pass is $10 and it costs as little as $5 for kids. Other waterparks in the region charge more than $30 for a day pass.

But since opening, the popularity of the well-executed park has led to complaints. Aldergrove locals have complained about parking issues and that the most popular outdoor features, like the tidal pool and waterslides, have been a challenge to access because of use by township residents and those from neighbouring communities.

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Earlier this year, Township Coun. Kim Richter called for the municipality to consider a tiered access policy that would give Aldergrove residents priority access. Township residents would be next in line, followed by residents from other cities, if there was room.

The idea was voted down after it drew opposition from most councillors.

Coun. Bob Long said giving Aldergrove users priority over other township residents was out of touch with the community because there is a demand for swimming and aquatic facilities throughout the city, and loss of staff during the pandemic has impacted operations at all recreation centres.

“Making a motion like this isn’t going to solve that one,” he said. “A better solution would be to support staff and their efforts to do the very best they can.”

Long also noted the facility was funded by township tax dollars and a $10 million grant from the federal government.

“Every person in Canada has an opportunity to use that facility,” he said.

Coun. Petrina Arnason suggested that township residents could suffer if other communities took a similar approach.

Richler’s motion did find some support from colleagues.

Coun. Eric Woodward said more people outside of the township are using the pool during peak periods and council should prioritize its residents. Though he also noted the facility was designed to be a regional draw to bring people to Aldergrove.

“When I think of the Aldergrove pool and some of the reservation challenges I think of a restaurant, where maybe the restaurateur guarantees reservations for 50% of the room and the other half are walk-ins. I never understood why it couldn’t be that simple.”

Coun. Steve Ferguson said the problem with access isn’t just about the use of the waterpark. He said residents have voiced concern about how there isn’t suitable availability for swim lessons and therefore supported the motion.

“Perhaps staff can come back with something that can help those residents who want to teach their kids how to swim,” he said. “My parents always said, ‘The best thing for you to do as a young person is to learn how to swim,’ and I think that is true even today.”

(Staff shortages are impacting the availability of swim lessons across the Fraser Valley, and municipalities are trying a variety of tactics to hire and train new instructors. Chilliwack, meanwhile, has launched its own training school to try to train more instructors.)

Council voted on the motion during a recent meeting where it failed 5-4. Ritcher, Woodward, Ferguson and Coun. David Davis voted in favour, with Long, Arnason, councillors Blair Whitmarsh, and Margaret Kunst, as well as Mayor Jack Froese opposed.

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Joti Grewal

Reporter at Fraser Valley Current

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