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Tear it down, or keep it

Martin van den Hemel   Feb-26-2019

Helen Healey thinks the soon-to-be mothballed Minoru Aquatic Centre could serve as an aviation museum.

Photo by Chung Chow

City wants to hear what community wishes to do with old aquatic centre

Would you rather repurpose the soon-to-be mothballed Minoru Aquatic Centre to a different community use, or tear it down to make way for more green space at Minoru Park?



That’s the question the City of Richmond is asking locals after a plan to demolish the building—at the cost of about $3 million—was reconsidered by members of council.

Former flight attendant Helen Healey said the high ceilings make the old aquatic centre well-suited for an aviation museum. Healey contributed to Marilyn Clayton’s 2002 Richmond Museum exhibit, Up in the Clouds, the History of Vancouver Airport, which commemorated the airport’s 70th anniversary.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Coun. Linda McPhail feel tearing down the aquatic centre and replacing it with green space, is the best option, and makes up for the loss of outdoor space that comes from the new building’s footprint.

But Coun. Harold Steves feels the old building still has life left in it, and it’s more fiscally prudent to save it than spending the millions of dollars to demolish it.

The city now plans to consult potential user groups before coming to a decision.

There are currently at least two significant health concerns involving the existing building.

According to a staff report, it’s “highly probably” the building contains asbestos, considering it was constructed in a period during which asbestos was “extensively used as a building construction material.”

Plans to test for asbestos were not completed since the building was slated for demolition, the report said.

There’s also mould in the building, and the cost of asbestos and mould abatement and restoration ranges from $500,000 to $4 million.

Filling in the pool and levelling the area would cost about $425,000, and the need for mechanical, circulation and electrical replacements could cost up to $1 million.

The premium option is to convert the space into an open warehouse or community-use space, at a cost of between $21.8 million to $27 million.

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