EDITORIAL: City of North Vancouver has to make a decision on Harry Jerome rec centre

It’s commendable for the City of North Vancouver to offer a lifetime’s worth of recreation – we just hope it doesn’t take them a lifetime to do it. The Harry Jerome replacement project has become the local government version of an heirloom lovingly handed down from one mayor and council to the next.

The faces at city hall and city hall itself have changed over the past decade but the pile of cinder blocks up the road remains as ubiquitous and daunting as ever.

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Last May, nearly a year after council temporarily approved a high, wide and handsome facility, the city opted to deprioritize the rec centre (not for the first time) until a comprehensive recreation strategy could be drawn up.

On Monday evening, we got a glimpse at that strategy via 28 pages, a couple dozen photographs, maps, charts and a four-step decision-making process. Toward the end of the meeting, a city staffer assured council that potential components of the new Harry Jerome rec centre would all be put through the “decision-making matrix.”

An inventory of every park, playground, and putting green in the city certainly has its uses. But even with a matrix on their side, we’re not sure if this strategy gets council closer to confronting the essential question: what to leave in and what to leave out? Because if the city plans to knock down the 55-year-old centre before Father Time beats them to it, they’ll need to make a tough decision – and no amount of reports, strategies, maps, or four-step prioritization processes will insulate them from criticism.

Council may leave curlers in the cold or chop the 50-metre pool in half King Solomon-like. After all, a smaller centre is defensible. But what is indefensible is bequeathing this quagmire to one more council. Some heirlooms are meant to be treasured. This one needs to be smashed. 

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