City of North Vancouver council might be one report away from determining what should be put in – and what might get left out – of the new Harry Jerome centre.
In a unanimous vote Monday, council endorsed a strategy to “establish a vision and philosophical foundation” for recreation.
That strategy includes an emphasis on fiscal responsibility, noted Mayor Linda Buchanan.
“[We need to ensure] we’re not overly burdening our taxpayers with amenities that we can’t afford,” Buchanan said.
The city’s previous council approved in July 2018 a $210-million Harry Jerome rec centre that would have included a 50-metre pool and a curling rink. However, with city staff forecasting that a more modest centre could save $27 million, the newly elected council paused the project before a construction contract could be tendered. In May 2019, council voted to have city staff craft a recreation strategy.
“This isn’t just about one building ... it’s how are we using all the assets we have from a built environment as well as a natural environment,” Buchanan said.
The city’s aim should be to offer recreation for everyone from mothers-to-be to children to seniors, she said.
Coun. Holly Back mentioned an eerie feeling of familiarity during the discussion. “When we say ‘engage and consider input from all residents,’ I feel a bit [of] déjà vu tonight,” she said, referring to previous extensive consultation.
The city’s new strategy includes a framework for prioritizing recreation projects through a four-step process. City staff would gauge how well an amenity like a curling rink or a spray park fits with the municipality’s overarching goals of health and inclusivity. Following that, staff would figure out if the city has too much, not enough or just enough of that amenity before determining how that potential new rink or spray park would be prioritized. The process is a work in progress, noted city staff.
“This four-step process is like a cycle; it is never complete and requires ongoing upkeep to make sure the city is best meeting the community recreation needs of our residents and spending resources wisely,” stated the report.
In addition to staff’s research, Back said she also wanted local user groups involved.
“I’m happy to endorse this strategy because I believe in my heart Harry Jerome will move forward quicker,” Back said.
Coun. Jessica McIlroy praised the strategy as “very human focused,” noting money doesn’t enter into the decision-making process until the third step of the four-step process.
Staff will likely return with priorities for the new Harry Jerome rec centre within two months, according to Heather Reinhold, the city’s deputy director of strategic and corporate services.
“We would run all of the Harry Jerome recreation components and associated projects through the decision-making matrix,” she told council. Couns. Don Bell and Tony Valente did not attend the meeting.