Closed down for good last summer, Vancouver’s Riley Park Community Centre is awaiting demolition and its footprint’s return to green space. But the debate about the fate of this civic facility built in 1964 isn’t over just yet.
Neighbourhood residents like Allan Buium want to preserve the community centre that has been replaced by the new Hillcrest Centre, a 2010 Winter Olympics legacy facility located just across Ontario Street from the old structure.
“We knew that the new building was not going to have the adequate facilities for the arts, for seniors,” Buium told the Straight in a phone interview. “And all they did was move the preschool from the old building to the new building, so you didn’t gain any new space.”
Buium, who is the chair of the Riley Park South Cambie Community Visions Group, a volunteer group that works with city hall on local planning matters, is one of a number of people eager to find out what comes out of the Vancouver park board meeting on Monday (January 30).
Park commissioner Melissa De Genova is introducing a motion to put a six-month moratorium on the demolition of the community centre.
According to the first-term Non-Partisan Association park commissioner, this will allow both the board and the community to consider options for the shuttered facility. De Genova’s motion points to the lack of child-care spaces in the city.
But Vision Vancouver park board chair Constance Barnes noted that there are major challenges to keeping the Riley Park Community Centre.
One is the cost. According to Barnes, it would take at least $5 million to bring the facility up to building-code standards.
She also recalled that the plan to return the centre to green space has been a long-standing park-board promise that goes two administrations back. “Either way, it’s a difficult one because you try and save it, and then you have people that are going to come out and be very angry, saying, ‘Actually, you promised us green space,’ ” Barnes told the Straight in a phone interview.