A countdown clock inside the main entrance of Langley City Hall announces ‘9 Days’ until the doors of the new Timms Community Centre officially open.
Inside City Hall and the adjacent library, it’s business as usual on a weekday afternoon, as staff and patrons go about their day.
But behind a temporary wall to the west, construction and cleaning crews labour side by side to get the building ready for its Feb. 24 public unveiling.
Wednesday’s grand opening will mark the culmination of years of planning and a full 16 months of construction, since ground was broken in October 2014.
Since the old building next door to City Hall was demolished to make way for the new structure, Timms centre users have been working out at a temporary facility on Eastleigh Crescent.
When they make the move to the new building next week, they will find at their disposal a full gymnasium circled on the building’s upper level by a walking/running track, along with a weight/cardio room, spin room and two fitness studios with spring floors.
In addition to the fitness facilities, the new building also houses all-purpose rooms for meetings (one of which is equipped to serve as an emergency operations centre) as well as a games room, community kitchen, a café and outdoor patio space, which includes a rubberized mat for fresh-air fitness classes.
The 100-metre indoor track is what really sets the Timms centre apart, said City CAO Francis Cheung, earlier this week as he led the way through the building as part of a sneak peek tour.
“We can offer something that no other (nearby) facility is offering right now.”
Christine Daum, recreation supervisor for the City, expects the track will be popular with a wide range of groups, including moms with strollers and the Langley Better Breathers walking club.
The gymnasium is equipped with full and half-size basketball courts and lines have been painted for other sports as well, including the increasingly popular pickleball.
At the south end of the building, the games room, which is open to all ages, will offer three pool tables and three ping pong tables, along with skee-ball, air hockey, foosball and three different video gaming systems.
Each Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. the games room will be reserved for use by younger patrons, under the supervision of youth co-ordinator Thomas Nyte.
In a small room off the gymnasium spin classes will be offered, with bikes for 14 students per session.
But for Daum and Cheung, the real excitement on this tour comes with a visit to the cardio room, where more than a dozen examples of the latest in gym equipment are lined up and ready to go.
Created by Italy’s TechnoGym — official supplier for both the Olympic and Pan Am Games — the socially interactive machines allow users to compete in physical challenges with someone on another piece of equipment.
For those who prefer to exercise solo, each machine is equipped with a screen that can stream Netflix from the user’s personal account or allow them to browse Facebook or even play Angry Birds while they work out, said Daum with a chuckle.
Or, for a more exotic adventure, they can pick nearly any place in the world and walk, run or ride “outdoors.”
Choosing San Francisco as an example, Daum steps onto a treadmill and begins walking. On the screen in front of her, a city street scene begins to scroll as she walks.
“How fast I walk is how fast the screen goes by,” she said.
Although they’re not yet set up for the function, eventually the treadmills will incline with rising terrain on the screen.
“Cardio is hard, it gets boring,” said Daum. “Every little bit helps.”
Equipment has also been provided for people with mobility issues, allowing them to engage only their arms or legs and to be strapped in for security, if necessary.
Constructed at a cost of $14.3 million, the 35,000 square-foot building itself is a point of pride for the City.
Built to the equivalent of LEED Silver standards (though not certified) it incorporates a range of energy-saving components. A monitor on the wall will show how much power the building is using at any given point in time.
Rather than use the former centre’s footprint, designers integrated the new structure with the existing City Hall — joining the two buildings via a long concourse with main entrances at both ends.
The design is intended to offer good sight lines and let in plenty of natural light, explained architect Stuart Rothnie, when the design was first unveiled in June 2014.
The centre will be connected by foot and bike paths to Fraser Highway and 204 Street.
New parking has been provided both underneath the building and at ground level.
The bright, open design incorporates a planted “living wall,” an exposed beam ceiling and plenty of glass, offering stunning views of the mountains to the north and east.
A time capsule will be dedicated during the Feb. 24 opening. The items won’t be buried, but kept on display behind polarized glass in the concourse.
“This has been a really consultative process, with council providing feedback on everything from the colour of the walls to the furniture, to the time capsule,” said Cheung.
“It’s been a long time coming.”
Although the City had tried to include community partners in the development of the building, the effort ended up slowing the process considerably, said Mayor Ted Schaffer.
“We were working to have other parties involved, but some groups were dragging their feet.
“Eventually, you’ve got to move forward.”
Despite the wait, Schaffer said council is pleased with the result — a fitness facility that offers residents an opportunity to gather in a social hub at the centre of town.
“The track is probably the element that is really important, because it gives people the opportunity to recreate inside,” said Schaffer.
“As a council, we’re very proud . . . we’re looking beyond tomorrow. The kind of technology incorporated (in the building) exemplifies that.
“Another important aspect (of the facility) is that it’s paid for,” Schaffer added.
While acknowledging the City’s share of funding from the casino has played a large part in that, he also credits staff for “working extremely hard on priorities.
“It’s just being prudent and looking at the community as a whole.
“It’s involved a lot of time and effort on the part of staff . . . They’ve really put their hearts into it.”
The official opening of the new Timms Community Centre will take place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Memberships and passes can be purchased now, with $10 annual passes available for people who only want to access the track and the games room.
The centre is located in the 20300 block of Douglas Crescent.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story indicated the City would hold a soft opening of the new Timms centre on Monday, Feb. 22. The early opening has since been cancelled.