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North Vancouver residents rally to keep rec centre open

Residents rallied in North Vancouver Saturday morning in support of keeping Harry Jerome Rec Centre open, though it's slated to be closed for construction.

Disappointment continues for some in the City of North Vancouver, with the current Harry Jerome Rec Centre at Lonsdale and East 23rd still set to close by the end of the year.

The space is used by the likes of swimmers and lacrosse players, and a new space is slated to be built by 2025, but the closure means those who use the current centre have nowhere else to go.


Read Related: North Vancouver rec centre closure has some feeling ‘overlooked, undermined’


The group of about 100 upset citizens shared stories and speeches – and that included North Shore Minor Lacrosse’s President, who says they’re still trying to find a space to play in.

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“Lacrosse families are everywhere in our communities and it is heartbreaking for me to stand here as a representative of the Minor Lacrosse Association and tell you that the decision that was made to close Harry Jerome means we won’t have a place to play,” said Shannon Webber, President.

“Someone just asked me in the audience, ‘well, where will we play? As a representative of this association, I can’t answer that question for you today, and we are looking, but with the closure of Harry Jerome, and four years of a rebuild, we don’t have a place.”

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The Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre was built in 1966, and council voted on a plan that will have it close at the end of 2021.

The city’s mayor has previously said the current facility desperately needs to be replaced and is hopeful the new one will be able to better serve the community.

The mayor also said arrangements will be made so that people who use the centre will be able to get to and from the facility without a car.

But some residents, like Vivan Cheng who swims at the centre and started a petition asking for it to stay open during construction, say people affected by the closure weren’t properly consulted.

She told CityNews in mid-October that she was “surprised” to hear about the closure.

“My first reaction was, ‘What about all the seniors that come here, where are they going to go?’ It’s such a beautiful community that they have. They exercise together, they chat in the change room, and they go out for coffee together. It’s the human connection that would really be lost, and the opportunity to stay healthy,” she said.

Cheng says she doesn’t have faith that programs or services at other sites will be accessible.

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“The convenience, I think, it’s a big thing for seniors and for families without cars. Those are all issues that need to be taken into consideration,” she says, adding she started her petition to give people like this a voice.

The rec centre is closing, in large part for financial reasons, so the city can lease the land to a developer to help pay for construction. Advocates like Cheng hope they find another way to pay for the costs, and ask for the city to consider how the closure will impact the community moving forward.