With design plans now revealed for an expanded Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, it’s clear the project is no longer the “City Centre Sports Complex” it was previously called.
The proposed design of “City Centre’s State-of-the-Art Recreation, Culture and Sports Hub” shows a second gymnasium for the rec centre, a billiards room, fitness centre and fitness studio – and that’s pretty much it for sports in the expanded facility.
As previously reported, no indoor swimming pool will be included in the expansion because the $40-million budget doesn’t allow for one.
Designs plans were shown publicly for the first time July 19 during an open house at the Whalley-area rec centre, which will be more than double in size to approximately 70,000 square feet.
“The existing building is about 30,000 square feet, and the addition is around 40,000 square feet, and it’s over two floors,” noted Alex Smith, with Vancouver-based SHAPE Architecture. “It’s a neighbourhood in transition, and this facility is a big part of that.”
^^ The Whalley-area rec centre will more than double in size to approx 70,000 sf, stretching west toward SkyTrain line. pic.twitter.com/ALKFWY3uup— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) July 19, 2022
Tellingly, a news release from city hall makes no mention of a “sports centre” at the expanded Chuck Bailey, which is named for a longtime coach with Whalley Little League baseball association.
“The design is based on feedback from phases 1 and 2 of public engagement in 2021, where the public gave feedback on their values and needs, as well as the types of activities and spaces they would like to see in the expanded facility,” the news release says.
The proposed design includes non-sports amenities such as a learning kitchen, maker space, large and small multi-purpose spaces and childcare spaces.
Other features include a new entry plaza, community garden space and a grand lawn “to accommodate a range of social and learning activities to meet current and future needs of the growing neighbourhood and surrounding Whalley Town Centre.”
Laurie Cavan, general manager of recreation, said “City Centre Sports Complex” was used as an identifier in the city’s capital budget documents, “to distinguish the geographic location of the investment. For consistency when reporting back to Council it is used. The name Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre will remain. This is an expansion to that facility.”
The expanded rec centre will be built to the west of the existing structure, stretching toward the SkyTrain line.
The current west parking lot will be removed, with an underground lot in the plans. The west wall of the rec centre is the former site of Surrey UrbanScreen digital art facility, now decommissioned.
Construction is scheduled to start next spring, with completion in 2024. Parts of the existing rec centre will also be renovated to include a new childcare centre on the second floor, and the existing preschool will remain.
“Also upstairs we’re expanding that seniors lounge area, and will have a space for seniors activities in the addition as well,” Smith explained.
Public feedback is welcomed at surrey.ca/chuckbaileyexpansion.
Smith said the outdoor skatepark will remain south of the rec centre.
“It’s one of the only covered skateparks in the Lower Mainland,” he noted. “We had our first open house and the local skaters showed up in force and pleaded with us to leave it as is, for skating in the wintertime especially, and we will.”
As for a swimming pool, that subject is covered in a 70-page “Engagement Report” about the rec centre expansion, published in January 2022 by Shape Architecture: “A swimming pool is the most often cited request for facility expansion in online survey and on the website Q&A. A new pool is beyond the scope of this expansion project.”
The expanded facility will include a south-facing “social heart” outdoor plaza, and also indoor space for community gatherings.
“There’s a large multi-purpose room that will be ready for events, so you can do performances, larger community meetings and other gatherings,” Smith explained. “It’s not a theatre, it’s a multi-purpose space. I think there was a concern that when you put a stage in and a lighting grid, it tends to be used for performances only, and not other things, so we’re maximizing the flexibility of the space.”
Now, the design plans must be approved by Surrey city council before construction starts.
”We started work on this last year, into the fall,” Smith explained. “It’s a really tough construction environment right now, and costs have gone up a lot. When we did the original schematic design work, we had to do some rejigging to get in line with the budget, so we undertook some significant revisions to make sure the proposed project was in line with the money available for it. At this point, we have reasonable confidence that this is what we’re going ahead with.”