Nanaimo RCMP is investigating after an early morning fire caused extensive damage to the Departure Bay Activity Centre.
Fire investigators turned the scene over to police after deeming the blaze as “suspicious,” according to an RCMP media release.
Emergency crews arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m. on March 17 to find the building fully engulfed in flames. The centre was empty at the time and no injuries were reported.
The gymnasium portion of the building sustained significant damage, while the adjacent parking bay, which held the Salvation Army emergency food truck, suffered only smoke damage, police said.
“You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the Nanaimo area who hasn’t attended an event or activity at this hall. It’s a landmark building which as served the citizens of Nanaimo well for over 60 years,” said Const. Gary O’Brien.
People who attend recreation programs at the centre will be contacted and, where possible, programs will be accommodated elsewhere, according to the City of Nanaimo. A damage assessment of the building is being conducted.
Police are asking people with security camera or dash cam footage from around the time of the incident to call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file #2022-8997.