The entrance at North Surrey Recreation Centre. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

North Surrey rec centre doors will close for good this weekend

The city plans to replace the building with a mixed-use ‘Centre Block’ development

This Sunday evening (Dec. 22) at 8 p.m., the doors of North Surrey Recreation Centre will close forever.

The 54-year-old facility has reached the end of its “functional life,” city officials say, and those who use the pool, gym and ice arenas will have to go elsewhere, within a four-kilometre radius.

The two sheets of ice have been out of service since September, when all ice sports moved to the new North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, a three-rink facility built near Scott Road SkyTrain station.

North Surrey rec centre’s pool and gym are now set to close, too, and those programs will shift to Guildford and Chuck Bailey recreation centres.

Dave Bains, who has visited North Surrey rec centre since 1981, is sad to see it go.

Along with other patrons and staff, he attended a farewell potluck event last week.

“I swim there every day now, and see all of the same people,” Bains said.

“It’s very sad – we’re all sad about it, but I’ve done my mourning,” Bains added. “I’ll be going to Guildford (rec centre) along with some other people, and it’s actually closer to where I live. But I’ve complained for years that the water at Guildford is icy cold, too cold to swim there.… But they have told me they reviewed it and will raise the temperature, so I’ll go there to test it out for myself.”

• RELATED STORY, from June 25: The end is near for North Surrey rec centre.

In June, a report to Surrey city council detailed plans to decommission and eventually demolish the aging North Surrey Recreation Centre, built in 1965 and since renovated several times. The city plans to replace the building with a mixed-use “Centre Block” development that would radically change the look of the area, adjacent to Surrey Central SkyTrain station.

One day, the site could include a proposed City Centre YMCA, which would be built in partnership with Simon Fraser University.

• READ MORE, from Sept. 9: New YMCA facility eyed in Surrey City Centre, with site ‘a first key step’

Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of Parks, Recreation and Culture, said rec centre staff will be transferred to work at other city-operated facilities.

“It has been a fantastic facility for the North Surrey community,” Cavan said this week, “but certainly it has reached the end of its functional life and it’s better for us to move forward with the investments we’ve made in new facilities versus continuing to spend resources on trying to maintain an aging facility.”

At North Surrey rec, extended public swim times are planned on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 21-22), daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with hot chocolate and candy canes for all. Regular admission rates apply.

Looking ahead, an event celebrating the grand opening of North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex will be held Jan. 18, with free public skating, entertainment and skating demos. The fitness facility there will open on Jan. 2, and classes start Jan. 6.

“It’s quite significant to be opening a facility of that size in the community, and it’s a very big investment,” Cavan said.

“Everybody loves their local rec centre, and we understand that, and it will mean change for users,” she added. “And even though (the rec centre) is aging, a lot of people have had an affinity for that facility. But over the last few months we’ve done a lot of communicating with our users to let them know about programs that will be available to them and the timing of the aquafit classes that are so popular – you know, when they’ll be held at Guildford, the schedules for those programs and classes.”

• RELATED STORY, from Oct. 4: ‘You’re breaking up a society,’ resident says as North Surrey pool closure looms.

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The mural that hangs near the hot tub at North Surrey Recreation Centre. (contributed photo: Dave Bains)

As a frequent pool user at North Surrey rec, Bains is particularly fond of a mural – of orcas in the waters off the B.C. coast, painted on sheets of plywood – that hangs on a wall near the hot tub. He said it was created by a lifeguard named Veronica Bordeira who, according to Bains, has since died in an ATV crash in a forest outside Cranbrook.

Three years ago, when the pool was closed for maintenance and the mural showed signs of wear, Bains insisted to facility management that the mural be protected.

“They had professional guys come in and this is now covered with acrylic,” Bains said. “It’s been here a long time – 15 years, maybe more.”

Fittingly, Bains said, the mural will be removed from the wall and given to the artist’s parents.

“Veronica showed me how to draw some things, she was so nice,” he added. “I’ve drawn this mural in a book I have, so I have the memories.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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