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Pemberton Community Centre opens nearly two months late

Official opening took place on Canada Day, but centre only opened Aug. 25

The Pemberton Community Centre is finally open to the public, nearly two months after a majestic Canada Day opening ceremony.

The Village of Pemberton’s official website has announced that the centre officially opened on Aug. 25, 55 days after a Canada Day ceremony that had a ribbon-cutting and a statement from Mayor Jordan Sturdy that the facility would become “the heart of this town.”

The facility, which was partially funded by a $1.1333 million grant from the Canada-B.C. Infastructure Program, now offers Pemberton a library, fitness centre and recreational dry floor space in the town centre.

The delay in opening the centre came from the inability to find enough tradespeople to have the building ready for July 1, according to Paul Edgington, chief administrative officer with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

“There was actually a lot of things that hadn’t been done yet,” he said. “That was just due to the availability of… construction labour and those kinds of things.”

Among other things, Edgington said that workers had not finished putting up exit signs in the building by July 1.

He then said the Canada Day ceremony was more of a “sneak preview” than an opening, despite the ribbon cutting.

“The community was invited in the building to preview what they’d have when the rest of the chores got done,” Edgington said. “We’d hoped that everything would be done by July 1, but it just wasn’t able to, not in the current construction climate.”

That “construction climate” is a labour shortage that’s making workers such as electricians, labourers and contractors difficult to come by for almost any project, according to Edgington.

“Just getting someone to do something like putting down paving stones, you’re waiting in line for them,” he said. “It’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just a lot of work and not enough people to go around.”

Mayor Jordan Sturdy also said that Canada Day was only an opportunity for people to see the centre, not its opening.

“We really wanted to have Canada Day at the new community centre site,” he said. “At that point we did not have all the paperwork in order and it really just took time to get the various construction schedules issued by the various agencies and companies involved.”

Sturdy did, however, say he was impressed at the amount of use the centre is getting just after its opening.

“I was there at 6:30 at night and I had a look at the fitness centre,” he said. “There was eight or nine people in the fitness centre.

“I thought that was tremendous.”

The Village of Pemberton and the SLRD first applied for funding to build the centre in 2001 and construction broke ground on Aug. 26, 2006.

Since that time, contractors have developed a 22,000 square foot facility with various features available for community use. They include the aforementioned library, as well as a “Great Hall” with large windows on the building’s east side that open onto a patio area and outdoor amphitheatre.

The building is outfitted with a number of “green” features including low emittance (Low-E) windows, which help keep out UV rays in the summer and trap heat in the winter; geothermal heating, which draws on the Earth’s heat to keep the building warm; and low-volatile organic compound (low VOC) paints, which have fewer toxins than other paints and thus allow safer indoor air quality.