The tumbling mats used by North Vancouver’s Flicka Gymnastics turned into wrestling mats for a short while on Monday morning as the club held a press conference airing their concerns over being left out of the latest plans for the rebuild of the Harry Jerome rec centre.
With a team of young gymnasts performing flips and tricks in the background, Flicka’s leadership made their case for why the non-profit club, which was founded in 1962 and has called the current Harry Jerome facility home for the past 18 years, should be included in the plans for the new City of North Vancouver facility. The latest plans for the $237-million Harry Jerome rebuild, approved by city council in July, include spaces for curling and skating rinks, two pools, a seniors centre, gym, fitness centre and multi-purpose rooms, but no space for Flicka. The club, which is one of the largest youth sports organizations on the North Shore with more than 2,000 members, is slated to be relocated to a smaller space at nearby Mickey McDougall rec centre.
Flicka, however, claims that the space being offered is insufficient for their needs.
“Right now we are sitting in a space that is not suitable for our needs,” said Flicka board co-president Nicole Turcotte, adding that going to a smaller site would impact the programming they are able to offer and potentially force them to move off the North Shore. “For a program that already has max capacity and registration, this is simply not suitable for all the children across the North Shore that want to access our program, who are primarily female athletes.”
According to Flicka, gymnastics is the second largest sport on the North Shore in terms of participation, trailing only soccer.
Flicka member Scott Morgan, who represented Canada in gymnastics in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, shared the story of how the club helped him achieve his dreams.
“In North Vancouver we have the ability to tap into so many sports activities – it’s what makes Vancouver great – but if it wasn’t for Flicka being at my doorstep, I probably wouldn’t have travelled an hour and a half on transit to go to the next closest gym to pursue my dream.”
Not everyone in attendance was doing somersaults for the club, however. Many candidates in the upcoming municipal election were in attendance, including a few who voted to approve the Harry Jerome plans in the summer.
City of North Vancouver Coun. Rod Clark, who is running for mayor, blasted the club for holding a public event to air their grievances.
“What I don’t like is negotiating in front of cameras,” said Clark. “To be blindsided, on the eve of an election, I think it’s power politics. And in spite of all that, I’m more than willing to sit down with you and negotiate. But it has to be done in a cool, calm fashion. It has to be done with our staff in attendance, with a long range vision of what happens with Flicka and with Harry Jerome.”
The old rec centre will stay in operation until the new one, slated to open its doors in 2023, is completed.