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Construction date set for Harry Jerome

City commits to having full plans in place by 2017
North V
Harry Jerome Recreation centre is due to be rebuilt in 2016.

While they aren't sure what it will look like or where they're going to get the approximately $70 million to pay for it, City of North Vancouver council members are certain when construction should start on a replacement for the Harry Jerome Recreation Centre.

Council approved a notice of motion from Coun. Rod Clark Monday night calling for the city to commit to having a "shovel ready" project in place by the time the District of North Vancouver opens its new William Griffin Recreation Centre in 2017.

"Once the William Griffin Recreation Centre is built - the ribbon cutting will be sometime in the fall of 2016 - (the district) is going to want to do Karen Magnussen and Ron Andrews," Clark said, noting that the North Shore is going to be "down a pool" for the next 10 years. "Harry Jerome has to be in the mix somewhere and I suggest this be the next project up."

Other than in abstract ways and in arguments about spending priorities, council has largely not discussed Harry Jerome in 2013. After receiving a report including a preferred basic layout of the lands, recreation facilities and new residential buildings for the property, council voted in February to hold off on any decisions until January 2014.

Under the preferred option, the existing arena on the south side of 23rd Street would be connected with a building that bridges the street and houses administrative space and a new Silver Harbour Seniors' Activity Centre. The north side of 23rd would feature a 25-metre pool, gymnasiums and a full-size Norseman playing field with parking underneath.

To help cover the roughly $70 million it would cost, the plan also included about 350,000 square feet of residential development in two 180-foot towers between Lonsdale and Eastern Avenue south of the arena and another five-storey building along St. Georges Avenue.

But council wasn't keen on the plan as presented and sent staff to do more consultation. The delay was also partly to give pool user groups time to raise funds and look for operating grants to help build and maintain a 50-metre pool, rather than the 25-metre one in the plan.

"I'm certainly going to make a pitch for a 50-metre Harry Jerome to address some of that. That's a recurring theme with me. I appreciate that council will be rolling their eyes in their heads, however, I'm not letting it go," Clark said.

The city should be striving to match the quality of the district's designs for William Griffin, Clark said, which he described as "well planned, dynamic and beautiful."

But council members should also come prepared to discuss not just what the layout of Harry Jerome should be, but also how the city will pay for it Coun. Pam Bookham said.

"We need to recognize that there are a number of advantages that we have when it comes to funding that kind of a facility, not the least of which is through compatible, wellthought-out development throughout our whole community, not just adjacent to Harry Jerome," said Bookham.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto agreed with the sentiment.

"I think Coun. Bookham is pretty much bang-on as we discuss what we want, as we move forward, with how we're going to pay for it. I know if someone is looking to purchase a house, they find out how much money they've got to spend before they go out and buy the house. They don't buy the house and figure out how to pay for it," he said.

Clark said the spirit of his motion didn't just take into account when the sodturning photo-op would be, but also having a plan in place to pay for a new Harry Jerome.

"To me, shovel ready means exactly that, like, we break ground as the blue ribbon at William Griffin is being cut and shovel ready, to me, means not only working drawings but the financing also in place," he said.