The largest capital undertaking for the City of North Vancouver has been suspended, following a decision by city council earlier this week to take a comprehensive analysis of its existing facilities
Last year, the previous city council narrowly approved a contentious plan to proceed with the construction of a new replacement Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre (HJRC) at a cost of $237 million.
However, just short of backtracking on the plan, city council’s decision this week puts all contracts associated with the new facility — including project architects and related sub-consultants — on “pause” to allow city staff to do a broader review of the municipality’s recreational facilities and spaces.
According to a city staff report, the “asset mapping” of all and future recreational space will also be paired with new guidelines for community amenity space use to ensure that “all city-owned spaces are considered for their potential contribution to a community recreation strategic plan.”
“Under the terms of the current HJCRC prime consultant contract, the city has the ability to pause the HJCRC contract for a period of 12 months,” reads the report.
“The existing internal project team can be redeployed to develop a community recreation strategic plan as directed by council. Staff will bring forward a report at the next council meeting to seek approval to utilize existing HJCRC funding for this review.”
The project’s financing model is largely funded by a partnership with Darwin Properties, with the developer leasing the existing HJRC site over a 99-year term for a redevelopment entailing about 800 rental homes and 21,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The life of the lease will generate $210 million in revenue for the city.
But to kick-start construction, the municipal government estimates it will need to borrow $110 million.
Concerns with the project mainly relate to cost and the potential risk to the small city of 55,000 people.
Construction on the new HJRC was initially scheduled to begin in 2020 for an opening in 2023.
The facility, designed by HMCA Architecture + Design, would be built just north of the existing HJRC, on a city block currently occupied by Centennial Theatre, Norseman Park, Lonsdale Skate Park, and ground level parking.
There would be an aquatic centre with a 50-metre length pool and a leisure pool, gymnasium, single NHL-sized ice rink with 500 spectator seats, curling rink with six sheets, seniors’ centre, multipurpose rooms, children’s area, youth centre, skateboard plaza that is partially covered, and about 80 units of social housing.
Additionally, ample large indoor circulation spaces for casual socialization and recreation and views to green inner courtyards through impressive floor-to-ceiling windows enhance the communal spaces.
Wood is extensively used for the underside of the cantilevered spaces and ceilings of main circulation spaces.
A main entrance plaza accessed from 23rd Street East “can be compared to a clearing in the trees.”
Altogether, the total floor area of this recreational complex spans over 230,000-sq-ft within five levels, including a one-and-a-half underground level with 600 vehicle parking spaces. Centennial Theatre on the southwest corner of the site will remain and be integrated with the new complex.
Other elements of the project include a new replacement lawn bowling club and greens at the Mickey McDougall site as the replacement facility for North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club.