With North Surrey Recreation Centre shuttered and plans for a proposed YMCA facility scrapped, Surrey has turned its attention to creating a City Centre Sports Complex.
“This facility will meet the growing recreation needs in the City Centre/North Surrey area,” a report to council notes. “Additional recreation amenities will consider all ages and abilities and will complement the existing facilities in the area. $0.5M in funding has also been allocated in 2024 for the design of a potential second phase of this project.”
The approved city budget included a general property tax increase of 2.9 per cent, and a 200-per-cent increase in the capital parcel tax, to $300, to pay for such community projects.
Chuck Bailey rec centre currently features a basketball gym, fitness studio, meeting rooms and other recreation/community spaces.
Marion O’Byrne, who discovered pickleball there six years ago, said the facility is too small for the area’s needs.
“North Surrey has less and less recreational opportunities with the pool closure, rinks moved down the hill to Bridgeview and only has Chuck Bailey recreation centre, an excellent but very small centre with limited programs,” O’Byrne wrote in a letter to Surrey’s mayor and council. “Yoga is often held in the computer room for lack of space.”
The 54-year-old North Surrey Recreation Centre closed for good in December 2019, three months after the three-rink North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex opened near Scott Road SkyTrain station.
Meantime, the city was involved in plans to build a Surrey City Centre YMCA in the area, but that project was declared dead last May in a joint statement by YMCA of Greater Vancouver, the City of Surrey and SFU. “Escalating construction costs” were to blame.
The project was to include a YMCA-SFU facility and high-density residential housing on the university’s Surrey property. “Since the project was first conceived by the YMCA and City of Surrey six years ago, costs have climbed to $75 million,” according to a news release at the time.
Former city councillor Bruce Hayne, ex-chair of the city’s parks and recreation committee, calls the collapse of the YMCA project plans “really unfortunate, because that was going to be a wonderful partnership with them.”
He said the funding of $40.5 million for the proposed City Centre Sports Complex “won’t build what most people would consider a sports complex.
“There will be no ice there, because that use has shifted to Scott Road, and a pool – the Y was going to build that, but you can’t build a pool in something for $40 million, you can’t,” Hayne said.
Among Surrey’s latest capital projects, the biggest-ticket item is the $90-million Newton Community Centre, planned as a 75,000-square-foot facility in the 6900-block of King George Boulevard.
Other top-dollar projects planned to get off the ground in 2021 include the $21-million Bear Creek Park Athletics Centre, and a $6-million track replacement and new artificial turf at South Surrey Athletic Park.
Also on the books, for work starting in 2022, is the $50-million Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex, a twin-rink project “paused” during budget discussions in 2019, not long after Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition took control of city council.
“Just looking at this (list of capital projects), there’s basically nothing past 2022 or maybe 2023, in terms of a vision for the city,” said Hayne, who is now the executive director of Boating BC Association. “The Cloverdale ice complex, that’s coming in at $50 million starting in 2022, and that was to be finished for $35 million in 2018, you know. And because that got canned, and with construction costs that continue to go up and up and up, that project would have been finished, and now it’s going to cost $50 million and probably won’t be done until 2024.”
Hayne noted that Surrey’s current vision is quite different than what is outlined in 2017’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Strategic Plan, an award-winning strategy created as a blueprint for determining such facility and service decisions through to 2027.
“There was a ton of work that went into that 10-year plan – so much time and effort, including staff time and volunteers, people in the community, and it was a pretty comprehensive plan,” Hayne said. “It didn’t satisfy everybody’s needs but it attempted to be as broad and supportive to all sorts of user groups, as many as possible. I think that (plan) is just collecting dust somewhere, because this current plan does not reflect at all what that parks and rec strategic plan looked like – and that includes not only rec centres and things like it, it’s green space and park space. The hard cost of putting a plan like that together may be relatively minimal, but it’s the human contribution – that’s huge.”