Many Royal City residents are devastated by the loss of a place that become like a second home.
Community members expressed sadness as news began to spread that the Arenex was destroyed after its roof collapsed Monday night.
“It feels like our hard work has just been destroyed, sort of, and it’s just because of snow,” said 12-year-old Elisse Healy, a competitive trampolinist with the Shasta Trampoline Club, who has been training at the Arenex for five years. “I didn’t believe it was only snow that did this.”
Steve Quinlan’s children were members of the Shasta Trampoline Club and his daughter continues to coach for the club.
“It was a familiar place to go to, where everybody knew everybody,” he said. “You walked in and it was family.”
Thirteen-year-old Carly Anderson has been involved in the non-competitive gymnastics program at the Arenex since she was about three years old.
“It’s kind of sad,” she said. “There’s probably nowhere else that I can go that’s in New West.”
New Westminster native John McMahon has been part of the ball hockey league at the Arenex since 1987.
“The league has been going for 34 years and I started in the fifth year of it. I was 19. We played a league game in there on Sunday afternoon and it looks like it might be the last game in there,” he said. “I just thought of the ball hockey league and reflected on how long I’ve been playing it. It’s pretty devastating.”
Gurjeevan Singh, a 20-year-old Port Moody resident, practises and coaches shooting at the indoor shooting range at the Arenex every few days. He has “no idea” where he’ll go now.
“There’s really none that have this type of program. Here, it’s built for competitive shooting. Any other range it’s just recreational,” he said.
Singh’s father woke him up at 7 a.m. on Tuesday to tell him the building had collapsed, and he quickly ran downstairs to watch the news.
“My heart just sank,” he said.
For the past 15 year, Scott Steinson has been playing badminton at the Arenex, a place that not only provides good-quality badminton but a welcoming atmosphere. A Coquitlam resident, Steinson detoured on his way to work so he could stop and see the damage.
“I was here for my first lacrosse practice,” said the New West native. “I was six years old.”
Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the city will be focusing its efforts on finding temporary accommodations so program can be up and running in two or three months. He said it could take two or three years to build a permanent structure.
“This facility is probably number 2 in terms of busyness, after Canada Games Pool. We have approximately 1,300 people that are registered on a seasonal basis for our gymnastics and trampoline programs,” he said. “The Arenex is also home for numerous sports leagues and drop-in sport programs. Obviously, all of those will be impacted.”
Gibson said it will be “a considerable undertaking” to find alternative locations for the programs offered in the Arenex.
“The gymnasium here is approximately 9,000 square feet. It’s probably one of the biggest gyms that we have in the city, outside of what the school district operates. The schools obviously need their facilities for their educational programs,” he said. “Our opportunities to move into our other community centres are limited at this point.”