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Photos: New West bids a fond farewell to a local landmark

New Westminster says its final goodbye to Centennial Community Centre: “There were lots of smiles and tears.”

Community members bid a fond farewell to Centennial Community Centre on Sunday.

As construction continues on the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre — a new $114-million facility that will accommodate services once offered at Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre —Centennial Community Centre’s days have come to an end.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, the City of New Westminster hosted the Farewell to Centennial Community Centre — Walk Through Memory Lane event. Community members had a chance to walk through the building one last time, take photos, collect a memento, reminisce and reconnect with old friends.

“People loved the day and were so appreciative of the opportunity to come by and say farewell and meet up with others,” said Renee Chadwick, the city’s manager of special projects and community partnerships. “Although visitors are very excited about the new facility, Centennial Community Centre will always be with them forever. It was about the people and the programs that recreated the memories.”

According to Chadwick, 250 visitors attended the farewell event.

The walk down memory lane included pictures in all the rooms of recreation programs offered from yesteryear, including Fitness New West through the decades, camp memories from Club Royale, dance recitals, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and more.

“Several families indicated that this was there second home, and loved that they were able to see their instructors who have worked there for 20-plus years that day. It was a reunion,” Chadwick said. “There were lots of smiles and tears.”

At Sunday’s event, visitor were able to pick up keepsakes including magnets, postcards and Fitness New West towels. Partner organizations, such as the Judo and Karate Club, provided demonstrations in the place that was their home for 40 years.

Chadwick said all of the rooms were activated with various arts and crafts activities, and visitors were able to write their names and memories on the walls.

“There was a lot of time reminiscing in the rooms,” she said.

Along with residents, the day’s attendees included staff connected to the community centre, including Ramona Manzer, its longest-serving staff member. She has coordinated recreation programs in this facility for more than 40 years.

Retired city employees, including Ken Winslade and Frank Davies — who were part of the vision of building Centennial Community Centre back in the day — also dropped by to say good bye.

“Many former staff met up again with others to reminisce of the times spent instructing at the centre,” Chadwick said.

Centennial Community Centre opened in May 1967 – during Canada’s Centennial year.

təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre is scheduled to open on the site next to Centennial Community Centre in June 2024. It will include aquatic facilities (including a leisure pool, lap pool, adult hot pool, family hot pool, diving boards, steam room and sauna); fitness areas; a cycle studio; two gymnasiums; multi-purpose rooms; a lobby where people can gather; a child-care facility for up to 37 children; café food services; and outdoor spaces.

“Visitors were able to learn more about the new facility təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre,” Chadwick said in a statement to the Record. “There is lots of excitement about all the endless possibilities this facility has to offer to all.”

Corrinne Garrett, senior manager of recreation services and facilities, said hazard abatement will commence the last week of November and demolition begin early-mid December.