New Westminster aims to open Queen’s Park Sportsplex next spring

A replacement for the Queen’s Park Arenex is on track to open this time next year – and to last longer than previously planned.

On March 11, city council received an update about the Queen’s Park Sportsplex project, which is nearing the end of the conceptual design stage. The 12,000-square-foot building will be located on the old reservoir/tennis court site in Queen’s Park, next to the newly completed skate park.

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“We are excited that we are finally at the stage where we are talking about final designs for replacement of the Queen’s Park Arenex,” said Jay Young, the city’s manager of recreation services. “The Sportsplex will be able to accommodate all the programs that took place at the Queen’s Park Arenex. That includes the gymnastics, the trampoline, ball hockey, the preschool program, daytime programs such as Motoring Munchkins and drop-in sports such as badminton and volleyball.”

The Arenex was destroyed in December 2016, when its roof collapsed. Since then, programs offered at the Arenex have been scattered to various temporary locations.

According to a staff report, the Sportsplex will include a reception area, universal washroom/change room, storage space for gymnastics and trampoline equipment and an 8,000-square-foot gym, which is smaller than the Arenex. The gym will accommodate all of the programs that were offered at the Arenex.

“Now that we have council’s endorsement for the scope of the project and the schematic design aspects of it, we are moving ahead 100 miles an hour to get that design finalized and get all of the appropriate contracts awarded so we can get construction underway,” said Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

In June 2017, council approved the development of a 24,000-square-foot structure that consisted of a fabric membrane over a rigid metal frame, but by mid-2018 the city was pursuing plans for a 14,000-square-foot building over a metal frame. The new plan consists of a steel structure with a steel frame and steel exterior.

“We started off with a fabric structure. It was something that was fairly inexpensive but it also had durability issues. The timeframe for the lifespan of the fabric structure was about 25 years. It is also maintenance prone as far as keeping it clean,” said Don Driedger, the city’s manager of major projects. “It lacked a little bit of design flexibility that we really needed to create something that would look and fit into the Queen’s Park setting.”

According to Driedger, the city expects to go out to tender in the summer, begin construction at the end of August and complete the building in early 2020. The Sportsplex has a budget of $5.5 million, with $4.4 million coming from insurance moneys from related to the Arenex, $1.1 million coming from grants and the balance coming from city reserves.

While the city is working toward a March 2020 completion date for the facility, Gibson said it will have a more accurate timeline once it awards the construction contract, as the contractor will commit to a specific timeline. He said the steel structure will be more durable and have a longer lifecycle than what was previously proposed.

“We are not referring to it as a temporary facility any longer,” Gibson said.

While the size of the gym is smaller than what was first proposed, Gibson said it will still accommodate all the programs that had been offered in the Arenex.

“It’s mainly trying to balance costs versus funding versus our programming expectations,” he said, when asked why it’s smaller than previously proposed. “The actual size of the floor area that will be used for programming is not significant enough that it’s going to have an impact on the core programs that have ran there in the past. In some cases we are in a slightly better position because we have generally a higher ceiling over the entire building than what we had in the Arenex."

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