Planning begins for proposed recreation facility

SFU’s board of governors has begun consultations with the City of Burnaby regarding the construction of a new recreational facility at SFU Burnaby.

At their meeting on Thursday, September 25, the board mentioned that Facilities Services is working with local contractors and construction managers to complete the development plan for projects that have come to be called the Link Building and the BC Chiropractic Association (BCCA) Facility.

“We would certainly make it clear that they are not part of SFU.”

The Link Building would be built in the athletics precinct, potentially linking the Lorne Davies Complex to the field, and would include a pool, a gym, and a racquetball court, among other services. As stated by the consultation flyers in February, it would aim to “revitalise recreation programming, improve women’s and men’s change rooms, house team locker rooms, and support space for field sports activities.”

The board of governors conducted consultations in February to discern whether the student body was in favour of the proposed recreational facility, which would be built by a private company in return for a 65-year lease of land adjacent to Discovery Park. The private company expressed a desire to use the land to build BC’s first school of chiropractic.

“[The consultations came back] mainly positive,” said SFU VP finance and administration, Pat Hibbitts. “Certainly there were concerns raised around what kind of association there would be with the chiropractic [school] and we would certainly make it clear that they are not part of SFU. They’re a tenant located in a building.”

The independent company was engaged because SFU does not have the capital required to construct a new recreation facility, nor is it able to borrow to fund this project because it is under a borrowing prohibition from the province. Therefore, SFU must investigate what Hibbitts referred to as “creative solutions.”

After the private company’s lease expires, the land would be returned to the university along with the chiropractic school building.

In relation to the amount of influence SFU will have over the construction of the private company’s building, Hibbitts explained, “We will have some say in terms of, we don’t want the ugliest building down there. We would want something that fits with us. Other than that, we wouldn’t have much say in it. We will set standards as to upkeep and all that. It reverts to us, so that’s the kind of thing you do in those [situations].”

The administration is currently working with Athletics and Recreation to determine the functions to be included in the Link Building. Once plans are finalized, they intend to re-enter discussion with the private company and engage in conversation with the City of Burnaby regarding zoning and development permits.

“If we can come to an arrangement that the proponent finds satisfactory — [if] what we have is acceptable to them, what they can build for the amount of money they’ve put aside — [then we will] carry on,” said Hibbitts.