New Westminster News Leader

Expanded Queensborough hub taking shape

Rene Chadwick, facility manager at the Queensborough Community Centre, checks out the new fitness room with its expansive windows. The centre is undergoing a major renovation and expansion that is expected to be completed by the spring. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Rene Chadwick, facility manager at the Queensborough Community Centre, checks out the new fitness room with its expansive windows. The centre is undergoing a major renovation and expansion that is expected to be completed by the spring.

Hard-hatted workers with tool belts criss-cross the Queensborough Community Centre expansion construction site. Wires hang from open ceiling panels dangling along the stark white unpainted drywall down to bare concrete floors. While there’s still much work to be done, Harry Buchholz has an air of excited anticipation about him and a spring in his step as a media tour makes its way around the facility.

It’s been almost eight years since the community floated the expansion idea, and Buchholz, who was on an advisory task force for the project from the beginning, can see the finish line through the mess, even though its completion is about four months away.

“I’m just about jumping out of my skin with excitement,” says Buchholz. “I’m visual, and I see it in my mind. We’re this close and I’m tasting it.”

The new centre will not only expand the programs, activities and services it has offered in the past, but will house a community police office and the first satellite branch of the city’s public library. It will also be a place where Queensborough residents can pay their taxes, utility bills and pick up dog licences.

In addition, facility manager Renée Chadwick says the centre will be New Westminster’s first early childhood education hub, anchored by an 1,800-square-foot child care facility that can accommodate 25 children.

“For many people this is a second home and we really wanted to capture that in the process,” says Chadwick.

“This is going to be one-stop shopping for Queensborough.”

The 13,500-square-foot expansion will be built to LEED Gold standards, which means it will have optimal energy efficient mechanical systems and much of the wood is from previously used regional products. The natural light that pierces into many of the centre’s spaces from the numerous windows will also reduce energy costs.

Although there is minimal evidence of it currently, Chadwick says the facility’s overall decor theme will be Life on the River, using natural colours. A long hallway atrium that runs like a spine across the facility will be a major example of this. Another hall has been dedicated for an illustrated history of the community centre.

The exterior will feature a 14-inch channel for rainwater running 14 feet down the side of the building and into a basin with mosaic tile.

The new centre’s gem will likely be the 2,500-square-foot fitness centre on the second floor, with floor to ceiling windows offering outstanding views of Ryall Park, Port Royal and the New Westminster mainland.

Along with a bunch of new equipment, the fitness area will feature an acoustic floating floor of one-inch rubber, two inches of concrete and 3/4-inch plywood isolated from the ceiling below it. The floor will absorb all the noise and bumps from being heard and felt below in the administration offices.

And on the south side of the fitness area is a large patio overlooking the Megan’s Place playground and the tennis courts that could be used for activities such as outdoor yoga.

Below the patio will be the day care. Although the Port Coquitlam Child Care Society had been chosen to be the provider, it has withdrawn because of other projects, so another request for proposals will be issued, says Chadwick. “We’ve had lots of interest since that time.”

The library, which will have a children’s section and WiFi connections, will be open Tuesday to Saturday, but a portion of it will be available for other activities during off-hours.

Chadwick talks about all the flexibility being built into the centre. When they aren’t being used for programs, there are several areas of various sizes that can be rented out for functions, including two with commercial kitchens.

Much of the original building is also being renovated, including a new roof envelope and a Wreck Room for tots that can be rented out for kids’ parties.

Since construction began, the gym has become a mega-storeroom while the centre’s staff have moved temporarily to different areas several times. Currently everyone is in half of the old banquet area with desks crammed together and heat being supplied by small portables.

“By the time we get into the new digs some of us will have been moved nine times,” says Chadwick. “I have to tell you it’s only as challenging as you make it to be. The staff has been amazing.”

That doesn’t mean they’re not excited about it all coming to an end this spring with the first event scheduled to be the annual Queensweep Earth Day on April 21, while the big opener will likely be the children’s festival June 22.

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