Operating a busy community recreation centre during construction is hard enough but then COVID-19 hit and sports and fitness programs in Port Coquitlam were among the first to be curtailed.
Now as the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC) barrels towards the finish line, and fitness, skating and swimming activities are re-opened in the brand new facility— albeit with COVID-19 protocols and pre-registration — the multi-million dollar project is getting through its ugly duckling phase.
And that, says the city’s mayor, is a little bit of a relief.
“The big news here is that despite COVID-19 we have made tremendous progress on the construction of the (PCCC) facility. It is on track for completion this fall, it is on budget, and the work that’s happening now is really exciting work,” said West after taking a tour of the $132-million project this week.
One of the most difficult aspects of constructing the massive recreation centre, located at 2150 Wilson Ave., is the shortage of parking, West acknowledged, especially now with some curb and utility work being done. But West said people’s patience will pay off when a 425 stall lot opens this fall.
And while the site is still heavily fenced and not particularly attractive, much of that will fall away in the coming months as Ventana Construction completes outside work and some of the critical infrastructure.
The project was broken into two phases, with the north side completed first, including two ice arenas, a leisure pool, fitness centre, library, Wilson Lounge and kitchen, games room, multipurpose rooms, offices, reception and concession.
However, the new amenities had hardly opened when COVID-19 hit and the facility was closed.
Since then many programs have re-opened.
West admits its been challenging to stay open during construction, while also dealing with COVID-19, but he hopes the fall finish can be a bigger, grander affair than what happened this past spring.
By then, he said, a vaccine may have produced enough herd immunity that COVID-19 restrictions can be relaxed and people can gather again. “I pray for that every day,” West said.
Some of the things people can look forward to opening this summer include a third arena with seating for 780, a gymnasium, children’s area, a large multipurpose room, and the north-side plaza and entrance at Wilson Avenue and Mary Hill Road.
This fall, the underground parking will open, along with a café, the south-side plaza with seating, sports courts, a walking path, playgrounds, a community garden, and a spray park.
Roadwork around the area is also progressing which includes the installation of new curbs, sidewalks and street lighting along Kingsway Avenue, Wilson Avenue and the westside of Maryhill Road.
With parking currently limited, facility users are advised to follow posted directional signage and encouraged to take transit, walk or cycle, according to the city of Port Coquitlam.