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Editorial: Sports groups will need support after Harry Jerome rec centre demolition

The decision to pull the plug on the rec centre at the end of this year caught us by surprise, as it did many users groups.
Wolf pack
Lucas Barker and Jacob Fournier of the North Van Wolf pack celebrate a goal during a game at Harry Jerome Arena in February 2020.

For a period of about four years, the City of North Vancouver will be a growing municipality with diminishing options for indoor sports and recreation.

The decision to pull the plug on the Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre at the end of this year caught us by surprise, as it did many users groups.

The decision will mean less financial risk for the city, which will get its premier community centre rebuilt without having to take on debt or wallop taxpayers. It may, however, carry higher political risk for a council that prides itself on making the health of its residents a priority, rather than fiscal conservatism.

City Mayor Linda Buchanan says the hockey associations and swim teams should have been aware that this was a possibility going back to 2018 when council sought financial “risk mitigation” for the project, but evidently council and staff did not make that clear, as most of the user groups now say they were caught off guard.

And four years is an awfully long time to go with no Harry Jerome at all. We want the city to make every effort possible to help the user groups find suitable places to train and compete.

We look forward to the new facility coming online in 2025 (assuming it is not beset by delays). But when it’s time for a ribbon-cutting, we hope the city takes a muted approach to the celebrations.

After a decade of delays, reneging on plans for a larger centre and then pulling the plug on the current one four years early without proper notice, it’s a frustrating process most of the user groups would rather not dwell on.

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