Young people bid farewell to Ambleside Youth Centre

The Ambleside Youth Centre got a colourful farewell Wednesday night as red--handed revellers festooned the 1940s-era building with pre-demolition graffiti.

After serving as a hub for West Vancouver’s youth for 22 years, the municipality opted to decommission the decrepit Pound Road structure following roof failure and collapse of the ceiling in January.

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Plans to reopen the centre were scuttled after the repair bill was estimated to be between $1.3 and $1.85 million, according to district staff.

The centre’s programs are now being offered at the Youth Lounge at the West Vancouver Community Centre and at the Gleneagles Community Centre.

The loss of the “beloved building” is sad, stated Mayor Mary-Ann Booth in a press release. There are long-term plans for “some form of dedicated youth centre,” Booth added.

Demolition will likely be finish by mid-April, according to West Vancouver spokeswoman Donna Powers.

The building was “one of 18 huts built by the Department of National Defence with four-gun emplacements and anti-aircraft guns to defend the harbour entrance below the Lions Gate Bridge,” according to historian Eve Lazarus, who detailed the site’s history on her blog, Every Place Has a Story.

The building was re-purposed for the West Vancouver Rod & Gun Club in the 1950s.

Inklings for a youth centre were stirred in 1990 when a survey compiled by the municipality’s youth advisory committee found many teenagers felt there was little to do in West Vancouver except “drive around in cars.”

The most common requests from young people, according to a report penned by Marilyn Middlemass, were for either a youth centre or a teen disco.

In 1996, district council made the decision to put the centre in Ambleside Park.

“This area ... will provide maximum opportunity for expansion of youth programming,” stated West Vancouver’s then-mayor Mark Sager.

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