Tong Louie Family YMCA in the Panorama area of Surrey. (submitted photo: Trevor Meier/YMCA of Greater Vancouver)

New YMCA facility eyed in Surrey City Centre, with site ‘a first key step’

‘There are a bunch of people working really hard to make this happen,’ SCDC boss says

With the complete closure of North Surrey Recreation Centre set for the end of this year, and the building’s demolition to follow, a plan to build a new YMCA facility in Surrey’s city centre is gaining steam.

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver is in talks with the City of Surrey, Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC) and SFU to construct “a modern community, health, fitness and recreation facility” in the area.

According to Kelly Walker Schobel, acting vice-president of marketing and communications for YMCA of Greater Vancouver, a new Surrey City Centre YMCA would include amenities similar to those offered at Tong Louie Family YMCA, located in Surrey’s Panorama area.

The parties involved aim to build “a centre of community that will benefit Surrey City Centre youth, families, adults and seniors,” she told the Now-Leader. “Every partner in this project is working in good faith to make this happen.”

A key element, she said, is securing a site for the facility.

“Right now it’s all coming down to where the site would be, specifically,” Walker Schobel explained.

“It’s too early to say it would be located there (on the current site of the rec centre), and as we’re exploring a partnership with SFU that would also become a factor, of course,” she added.

“It’s all really contingent on the site, and we’ve been working with the City of Surrey on that for a number of years. And once you have a site, everything else can happen, but the site is a first key step.”

Michael Heeney, president and CEO of SCDC, said “things are happening” on the YMCA project.

“We’re actively working on this, in sort of a facilitator role of bringing potential partners together to make it happen. I’m feeling somewhat optimistic it will happen,” Heeney said Thursday.

“I’m quite excited about this, and there’s a number of moving parts that have to come together, but the good news is, there are a bunch of people working really hard to make this happen,” he added. “Something could be announced more toward the end of the year, which would correspond with the decommissioning of the rec centre.”

SCDC, Surrey’s for-profit real estate development corporation, aims to “assist in realizing and advancing the transformation of the City of Surrey into a more modern, vibrant, sustainable and complete community.”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey development corporation hires former Bing Thom architect as CEO, from 2017.

In August, the city announced Dec. 22 as the date North Surrey Recreation Centre will close for good, after 54 years of operation on the site.

“North Surrey Recreation Centre will close in two phases,” says a “Facility Closure Notice” on the city’s website. “The North Surrey Arena will close and transition programming to the new North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex in early September, when the new arena opens.

“All other recreational programs at the North Surrey Recreation Centre will continue until fall programming ends on December 22, 2019. North Surrey Recreation Centre will then permanently close.”

Once the rec centre is closed, those who use the facility will be directed to programs and services within a four-kilometre radius of the site.

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

Walker Schobel said Y officials and partners “would love to figure out a site and proceed as soon as possible.

“But of course this is really complex,” she added. “We know the residents of Surrey there would really benefit from having a centre of community, specifically youth, families and seniors, so we really want to get into the city centre as soon as possible.”

Fundraising efforts to build Surrey City Centre YMCA are underway. Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society recently announced a $60,000 contribution to the project. “These funds bring us another step closer to fulfilling our pledge of $350,000, for the new Y being built in North Surrey,” the organization tweeted on Aug. 15.

Walker Schobel said that while plans for a new Surrey City Centre YMCA are yet to be determined, a typical YMCA includes a swimming pool, gymnasium, fitness studios, a lounge, multi-purpose rooms, steam rooms and more.

She said firm cost information is not yet available for the project, although the City of Surrey has promised $20 million in funding.

“I can confirm that the financial process is currently under review. We will be able to comment further on the costs and cost sharing when that information is available,” she added.

As for admission fees, it’s currently more expensive to use Tong Louie Family YMCA than North Surrey Recreation Centre. The rec centre’s adult drop-in rate is $7.25, or $73 for a month, compared to the Y’s adult “joining fee” of $50 plus biweekly dues of $29.99. The Y’s adult drop-in fee is $15.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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