By Mike Dowling
Published: December 30, 2018
The City of North Vancouver recently passed a motion affecting the plans for building the new Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre.
Among other things, the motion directs City Staff to seek clarification from the District of North Vancouver on its commitment to share in the operating costs of recreation components of the new Harry Jerome Centre and to
consider a change in scope from a 50 to a 25 metre pool.
Resolving the operating cost-sharing agreement is a great opportunity for the City and District to work together for the needs of their residents.
A significant amount of work has been done by the City of North Vancouver to arrive at a decision regarding the pool size. The City has thoroughly consulted the public through ideas fairs, open houses, public hearings, information sessions, design planning, 4 Advisory Committees and forty-eight programming sessions with various user groups.
There has been no expansion of aquatics infrastructure in the City of North Vancouver since 1965 while the city population has doubled. Ron Andrews and William Griffin pools added significant capacity in 1976 and Karen Magnussen leisure pool was added in 1992.
The Delbrook Centre replaced the William Griffin pool in 2016 adding a leisure pool at the expense of aquatic sports,
fitness and health capacity. The North Shore Aquatics Society (NSAS) has been active in support of a 50 metre pool in the Harry Jerome project conversation since 2009.
Reducing the pool size from 50 to 25 metres will save a mere $4.5 million on the $200.7 million project, reducing the overall project costs by about 2%, and will severely limit the new facility’s ability to serve the public throughout its life of 60 years.
A 25 metre pool can only host one type of activity at a time – considerably constraining access to the pool for the public. The proposed 50 metre pool with two movable bulkheads and a raise-able floor has the flexibility to be used for multiple activities at the same time, such as lap swimming, diving, water polo, and swim lessons. This gives the 50 metre pool much more capacity at about 38% less cost than two separate 25 metre pools.
Public support for a 50 metre pool is clear. Over 85% supported the project when the NSAS collected signatures during three Information Booths held in Capilano Mall. NSAS currently has over 5,000 signatures. The online petition at
t-purpose-pool has spiked since the City motion was passed.
The 50 metre pool is also supported by the North Shore Sports Council, a cross-section of small and large businesses, Capilano University, North Shore Secondary School Athletics Association, North Shore MLAs and MPs, and
many other non-aquatics sports organizations.
In 2011, Tom Johnston, Head Coach Swimming Canada Vancouver High Performance Centre, and advocate for the new UBC Aquatics Centre predicted that the William Griffin replacement pool would be “too small before it is built”. He was right! Last week, he made the same prediction again in reference to a 25 metre Harry Jerome pool.
The Harry Jerome Aquatics Component with a 50 metre pool is expected to serve up to 425,000 people per year. The proposed 50 metre pool is a proven work horse in large and small communities around the province and across the
country. Examples include Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, Langley, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Vancouver and Prince George.
If the new pool opens in 2023, it could last until 2083. What if it is too small? Pool space is already at a premium. New programs can’t be added without sacrificing existing programs; existing facilities are inadequate.
For example, aquafit programs are restricted to 50 people at Delbrook and are considered by participants to be overcrowded. Aquatics sports activities, such as water polo, synchronized swimming and diving are very restricted and won’t be helped by another 25 metre pool.
Opportunities to integrate aquatics activities into school programs are very limited. The 50 metre pool will offer more local, full and part time jobs as well as more leadership, volunteer and personal development opportunities for all residents.
Construction costs will never be less than they are right now.
Every municipality that has built a 50 metre pool has struggled with the decision to build it. NONE have regretted their positive decision, but many have regretted not moving forward.
* Resolving the operating cost-sharing agreement is a great
* What’s done now can’t be undone for 60 years or maybe ever.
* The 50 metre pool is needed now and in the future.
* It will be a key to fitness and health in North Vancouver for
* Construction costs will never be less than now