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North Van's Harry Jerome rebuild to start mid-2022

Current Harry Jerome rec centre will close by the end of 2021
A tourist poses with the statue of Harry Jerome in Stanley Park during the 2010 Olympics. The North Vancouver rec centre named after him will be rebuilt starting in 2022. Photo by Dan Toulgoet

The City of North Vancouver says the rebuild of the new Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre should begin in mid-2022 with money in the bank.

The city is now in long-term lease negotiations with developer Darwin Properties for mixed-use redevelopment of the surrounding lands, which should leave the city with enough capital without having to seek any loan financing.

Mayor Linda Buchanan welcomed the advancement in a news release.

“This is a great day for people in our city,” she said. “I’m proud to be delivering this new facility in a way that mitigates the financial risk so that we can move forward confidently and in a timely manner.”

The existing facility should be shut down by the end of 2021. North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission staff will relocate priority programming to other facilities.

Plans to replace the original 1966 cinder block building have been in the works for almost a decade. The city expects the new one to be online by 2025.

“As with all major amenities like this one, it takes time. This new facility will be a community asset for decades to come and we can say now with confidence we are on the right path forward,” Buchanan said.

The previous council voted in 2018 to rezone the lands to include a 30-storey tower and one 26-storey tower in addition to three six-storey buildings and one five-storey building between 21st and 23rd streets along Lonsdale Avenue.

The exact form of the buildings and number of units will be part of the negotiations now ongoing but plans won’t exceed the existing zoning, said Leanne McCarthy, the city’s CAO.

Council voted in March last year to scale back the project, cutting the size of the 50-metre pool in half and cancelling plans for a curling rink in order to save both up-front and longer-term operating costs.

While it wasn’t a universally popular decision, it was the right one, given the economy, the pandemic and the priorities that came out of the city’s 2020 recreation strategy, Buchanan said.

“This next step signals the green light in moving forward on this important project with money in hand,” she said.

The total cost of the scaled-down rec centre won’t be known until the city has tendered the contract, and building costs have been in flux, but the last estimate was $180 million.

“We anticipate that it will be in line with the revenues that we're receiving from the neighbourhood lands,” said Barbara Pearce, director of strategic and corporate services for the city.

The final designs for the new Harry Jerome will come before council in April.          

The city announced in December that it had signed a 99-year lease and issued development permits for Darwin to begin a six-storey rental building and six-storey seniors’ housing project where the North Vancouver Lawn Bowling club now stands. That lease put up $50 million towards the project.