Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

Harry Jerome Community Recreation Center users breathe a sigh of relief after learning that the facility remains open during the construction of its replacement.

“It feels like we can breathe a sigh of relief,” the Squamish Nation Coun said. Wilson Williams, president of the North Shore Indians Lacrosse Club, which uses the center in North Vancouver, BC

He said his club had only just gotten started again this summer after a six-year hiatus, with members of the local community showing up to support the senior team when plans for the new facility were announced.

Originally, the city planned to demolish the 55-year-old building while the new one was being built across the street, while developing that land.

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

The project changed when the contract with the developer was terminated after it did not fulfill its obligations. The municipality has not revealed further details about the cancellation of the contract.

The council then decided to change the structure of the project, postpone land use and leave the current facility open.

The space occupied by the Harry Jerome Community Recreation Center is referred to as Neighborhood Lands, and will eventually be used for a mix of residential, commercial space and local amenities that North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan says will help pay for the new recreation center.

Although Buchanan acknowledged that the public wanted the current facility to remain – an online application garnered more than 3,600 signatures – she said the decision was a contractual decision, not a response to public concern.

“Sure, it’s something they wanted, and so, you know, I’m glad they’re happy,” she told CBC’s On the coast host Gloria Macarenko.

“What that means for the city is that we have to do a bit of restructuring to keep moving forward.”

An exterior view of the Harry Jerome Recreation Community Center, built in 1966. (North Vancouver City)

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

The new center will include an arena with 500 spectators and more water and fitness rooms.

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

“It’s really sacred to indigenous peoples,” he said. “Many indigenous people at that time [lacrosse was created] used it for healing. “

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