Once upon a time and before an election, the new Harry Jerome rec centre was approved. Three readings. Final approval for the 50-metre pool and the curling rink. Contentious but conclusive. Or so we thought.
Last November our newly elected council put the project in stasis before a construction contract could be tendered, effectively transforming decision into delay. And so, while the durable but declining Harry Jerome rec centre continues to underwhelm, city staff are tasked with spending about six months compiling a “community recreation strategy,” which we hope is more useful than it sounds.
To be fair, we don’t know exactly what staff will find. But we know what they won’t: a curling rink and a 50-metre pool.
Giving credit where it’s due, Mayor Linda Buchanan has never wavered, opposing the splash-and-panache version of the centre every step of the way due to its inherent financial risk.
There would be a risk to moving forward. But there’s also a risk to standing still.
Construction costs, much like hairlines and airlines, will never be what they were. A six-month delay will mean shelling out an extra $4.8 million – money that could have covered the extra expense of the 50-metre pool. An 18-month delay would eclipse the cost of the curling rink.
If we’re to realize Buchanan’s goal of becoming the healthiest small city in the world, we need a world-class rec centre in which to swim, run, socialize and play.
With each day of delay we’ll see costs rise, curlers commute and the old rec centre – which may no longer be worthy of a great sprinter’s name – decay. It’s time to stop the pause. Let’s hit play.
What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.