User groups relieved that North Vancouver recreation centre will stay open during construction of new facility

·2 min read
The North Shore Indians lacrosse team prepare for a game in July at the Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre. The club's president says he's relieved the team will not be without an arena for the next four years. (Facebook/North Shore Indians - image credit)
The North Shore Indians lacrosse team prepare for a game in July at the Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre. The club's president says he's relieved the team will not be without an arena for the next four years. (Facebook/North Shore Indians - image credit)

Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre users are breathing a sigh of relief after learning the facility will remain open during the construction of its replacement.

"It feels like we can exhale," said Squamish Nation Coun. Wilson Williams, the president of the North Shore Indians Lacrosse Club, which uses the centre in North Vancouver, B.C.

He said his club had only just got back into the swing of things this summer after a six-year hiatus, with community members showing up to support the senior team, when plans for the new facility were announced.

Originally, the city planned to tear down the 55-year-old building while the new one was being built across the street, and develop that land at the same time.

Construction would have taken place between 2022 and 2025, leaving some user groups with no other options in the area.

The project changed when the contract with the developer was terminated after it failed to meet its obligations. The city has not revealed further details about the contract's cancellation.

Council then decided to change the structure of the project, postponing the land development portion and allowing the current facility to stay open.

The space occupied by the Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre is referred to as the Neighbourhood Lands, and will eventually be used for a mix of housing, commercial space and community amenities, which North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan says will help pay for the new recreation centre.

Though Buchanan recognized the public wanted the current facility to remain — an online petition garnered more than 3,600 signatures — she said the decision was a contractual one, not a response to public concern.

"Obviously, this is something that they wanted and so, you know, I'm pleased that they're happy," she told CBC's On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

"What it does mean for the city is that we do need to do a bit of restructuring in order to continue to move forward."

City of North Vancouver
City of North Vancouver

She said planning and pre-construction work for the new centre is underway, and she's confident shovels will be in the ground next year.

The new centre will include an arena with 500-spectator capacity, and more aquatic space and fitness space.

For Williams, this means his club and league can continue to operate and develop new programs for lacrosse, a sport that holds great cultural significance.

"It's really sacred for Indigenous people," he said. "A lot of Indigenous people at the time [lacrosse was created] used it for healing."

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