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North Vancouver’s new Lions Gate community centre opens today

Plans have been in the works for more than a decade. Now we can get a look inside.

The latest piece of North Vancouver’s community infrastructure is opening its doors.

The Lions Gate Community Recreation Centre at 1733 Lions Gate Ln., which has been part of the vision for the emerging Lions Gate Village Centre for more than a decade, will start welcoming visitors today (April 20.)

“I think a new centre excites anybody who comes upon it,” said Heather Turner, director of North Vancouver Recreation and Culture, which will run the facility. “It really is to be a community hub where people live, work, and access a variety of services in one location.”

Inside the 30,900-square-foot, two-storey space, visitors will find a “beautiful” full-size gymnasium, community kitchen, and multi-purpose spaces for everything from meetings to martial arts.

Turner said she’s particularly excited about the second-floor arts studio.

“It's fabulous. I was there last week and I thought, ‘OK, I am now motivated to sign up for an art program,’” she said. “It's got lots of natural light. It's a large space.”

The main floor features the first “express branch” of the North Vancouver District Public Library. While it won’t have endless stacks of books for perusing, there will be some, and anyone with a library card can order books to be brought in for pickup.

The Capilano Community Services Society, which assists vulnerable seniors, youth and families, will also have a permanent home at Lions Gate, and so will the Canadian Red Cross lending library, which provides equipment to people with mobility challenges.

Outside, there’s a 30,000-square-foot plaza with a playground and splash pad, a small events stage, and places for people to sit.

What it doesn’t include is a fitness facility or a pool. Amenities included in the project were decided through a public consultation process.

In 2013, the district negotiated with developer LARCO to include the shell of the centre in one of their developments at no cost to district taxpayers. The interior was outfitted by the municipality. A similar model is being used to create a new Seylynn Community Centre on lower Mountain Highway to serve the growing Lynn Creek Village Centre.

According to the 2021 census, there are about 600 people living in the burgeoning Lions Gate neighbourhood today, but the district’s official community plan foresees about 5,000 people living there by 2030.

The intent is for the Lions Gate Community Recreation Centre to serve as a central meeting place for the neighbourhood, which will be important as so many strangers become neighbours, Turner said. It even features a “living room” lounge, complete with a fireplace.

“It is a very homey gathering place. We find that community recreation centres play a really critical role in connecting people, and giving them a venue to connect is so fantastic,” Turner said.

Notably, the centre is just metres away from the municipal border, where new towers are rising out of West Vancouver as well. Future West Van residents will be welcome in the Lions Gate community centre, although North Vancouver residents will be given priority access to registration for programs.

Mayor Mike Little welcomed the addition to the neighbourhood.

"We’re thrilled to open the doors and welcome the community to this wonderful new recreation centre,” he said. “This much-anticipated space will provide community members with access to a range of programs and amenities, all within their own neighbourhood. I know the Lions Gate community is just as excited as I am to see this centre open."

Registration for programs at the new centre opens on May 2 at North Van Rec.

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