Burnaby to review Bonsor’s future in face of new growth

With condo towers springing up in the Metrotown area, the pressure will be on Bonsor Recreation Complex to accommodate the new residents.

Parks and recreation director Dave Ellenwood said he expects to look at the future of the centre within the next two years, with the first step to be sitting down with council to find out what they want to see there.

In the meantime, significant changes are expected at the centre this year. The new two-storey, 8,200-square-foot seniors centre, being built as a community amenity by Polygon next to its Chancellor at Metrotown highrise residential development at Bennett Street and Nelson Avenue, is expected to be completed late this spring, Ellenwood said.

When the seniors move into the new facility, they'll free up about 3,600 square feet, roughly one-third of Bonsor's space, on the upper floor which will be redesigned and renovated at a cost of $150,000 to $200,000.

Ellenwood said once a concept plan is completed, it will be presented to the public, in about two months time.

It's looking like the space will be used to meet the high demand for multipurpose space that can be divided into smaller rooms, he said. With installation of a springwood floor, it would be usable for everything from Pilates and aerobics to card games.

Additional smaller rooms could also be built to accommodate facilities such as a cycling studio, similar to the one that has proved popular at Cameron Rec Centre.

That renovation work will likely be finished at the end of this year or in early 2014.

Another project expected to ease the space demands isn't even at Bonsor. That would be the new Edmonds Community Centre and pool scheduled to open this spring.

"We think the Edmonds dry space with two gyms will take a lot of pressure off Bonsor," he said.

People from Edmonds who have migrated to Bonsor to use its pool and recreation facilities will be able to get those services closer to home. In fact, the Edmonds centre is expected to attract users from across Burnaby and even Vancouver, just because it's new.

Once the dust settles, parks and rec staff will look at what's needed at Bonsor to accommodate the thousands of new residents expected in the Metrotown neighbourhood.

Funding is available for projects through the community amenity funds developers paid in exchange for bonus density, he noted.

If additional facilities need to be built, it might involve building on Bonsor's parking lot, or on adjacent Bonsor Park. Ellenwood noted that council has been wanting to acquire all the properties that make up the triangle-shaped land where the cenotaph is located, bounded by Nelson and Jubilee avenues and Imperial Street, for inclusion in the park.

That would allow for redevelopment of the park and more room for new amenities to built in future, he said.

But first, Ellenwood and senior city staff will have to meet with council to get their feedback before conducting a feasibility study.

"Over the next two years it's something I think we're going to have to do," he said, noting there is no capital funding approved yet for such studies.

For now, it has money approved to renovate the vacated seniors space and the centre's change rooms.

"That's our priority consideration, to make the centre more functional within the existing footprint, take advantage of the former seniors space once they move into their new and better space, and then take a look at the future."

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