An exterior wall of North Surrey Recreation Centre, with the Central City tower in the background. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

The end is near for North Surrey rec centre, meaning programs will move to other facilities within 4km

Plan is for the site of the aging rec centre to become mixed-use ‘Centre Block’ development

North Surrey Recreation Centre will be entirely decommissioned by year’s end, with demolition not far behind.

Timeline details are included in a report approved by Surrey city council on Monday (June 24).

The aging structure, first built in 1965 and renovated several times in years since, would make way for a mixed-use “Centre Block” development that would radically change the look of the area, just west of Surrey Central SkyTrain station.

Once the rec centre is closed up for good, those who use the facility would be directed to programs and services within a four-kilometre radius of the site, according to a report to council.

Ice sports will move to the new North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, due open in September.

• RELATED: PHOTOS: Inside North Surrey’s new three-rink arena – and the view from the roof, too

The rec centre’s swimming and aqua-fit programs would shift to Guildford Recreation Centre – a distance of 3.8 kilometres.

The preschool, children and youth programs and services currently found at North Surrey rec, or NSRC, would shift to Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.

Through “enhanced communications,” says the report to council, “staff will be able to demonstration to the NSRC users that the relocation of the programs and services previously offered by NSRC will be enhanced by diverting to other home facilities and provide more opportunities for patrons to participate in new programs.”

Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of Parks, Recreation and Culture, said the city recognizes the elimination of North Surrey rec centre would represent “a big change for users there” and that the city would “communicate that with them in a very thorough way.”

Approximately 30,000 “individual users” annually pass through the doors of the rec centre, Cavan said, for a total of close to 170,000 annual drop-in visits.

Noted in the report to council is a proposed City Centre YMCA, which would be built in partnership with Simon Fraser University.

“We are currently in discussions about that project,” Cavan noted, adding the facility would be similar to the Tong Louie YMCA, a Sullivan-area amenity that includes a pool.

In the report to council, staff “strongly recommend a complete decommissioning of the existing (North Surrey rec centre) as soon as possible” after the opening of North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, located near Scott Road Skytrain station.

Also, the report says “there are several factors that indicate the need for the entire (North Surrey rec centre) building to be demolished at one time.”

The building and its systems are aging, the report notes, “and major infrastructure has exceeded life expectancy. There is a possibility of major systems failure of roofing, plumbing, heating and air conditioning as a result of deferring replacement of these in anticipation of the move from NSRC to the new NSSIC (North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex) and future City Centre YMCA.”

On Monday, the council approved the report’s recommendation to decommission the building by Dec. 31, 2019, with only Councillor Steven Pettigrew opposed.

“I’ve received too much push-back from the community regarding the closing of the pool,” Pettigrew said.

He pushed for the closure of the pool to be delayed, “until there is more substantial plans for this area and to allow people of the community to continue to swim there,” but the council approved the report as written.

Councillor Brenda Locke called North Surrey rec centre “kind of an iconic place for Surrey,” and said she hoped pieces of the building could be salvaged as a way to remember the site’s history in the local hockey community.

In the Surrey City Centre plan, the Centre Block project is described as “a higher density mixed-use precinct.

“Redevelopment will facilitate the completion of a north-south pedestrian corridor, and an on-street bus exchange,” the plan says. “The north-south pedestrian corridor will meander through the Centre Block and vary in width to include large and small plazas. The plazas will include amenities such as seating, bike racks, public art, and specialty paving. The edges of the plaza will be animated with strong, four to six-storey building podiums and active uses at grade.

“The existing bus loop will be reconfigured into an on-street transit exchange,” the plan adds. “The completion of key east-west streets, Central Avenue (103 Avenue) and 102A Avenue, will facilitate bus drop off along 102A Ave and bus pick-up along Central Avenue. The bus layover facility, which is currently located within the bus loop, will be relocated within close proximity to the Centre Block.”

• READ ALSO: New arena, more ice in Surrey – but will it be enough for everyone?



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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