East Lambton Community Complex complete next week

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Members of the East Lambton Community Complex Fundraising Committee toured the building early September. The building will be essentially complete and open to the public in a matter of days.

After years of planning and a few more of construction, the East Lambton Community Complex will open in one week.

Warwick Township CAO Amanda Gubbels gave councillors the news at Monday’s council meeting.

“We are on track to open- the municipality anticipates receiving occupancy on October 7, and transferring rentals to the location from Centennial Hall as of October 11,” she says.

The project has been planned since 2017 when the council of the day received a report which laid bare the poor condition of the main community gathering spot – Centennial Hall. The conversations began about what could replace the hall. The plan eventually morphed to a new community hall attached to the Watford arena. It will be able to host events for more than 400 people and it will have something never anticipated at Centennial Hall – a recreational centre which will be run by the YMCA.

Construction began with the renewal of the arena in May. Officials originally hoped to be in the building by mid 2022 but delays in labour and supplies, largely brought on by the pandemic, slowed progress. 

In August, contractors promised to have the doors open by October and Gubbels says it is happening.

“I will note not everything will be complete, complete. So it’ll be able to be used but there might you might see some contractors still touching up some paint. That kind of that kind of thing. The report does note a few items that may not be available one includes that divining wall …in the gymnasium as of the 11th. The refrigerators in the walk in freezer so we have a stopgap measure identified there and potentially some challenges with some flush valves for urinals but we will be working through those with the contractor to of course, make sure the facility is up and running as quickly as we can.”

She added a public open house is expected Oct. 12 between 5 and 7 pm.

Gubbels said the project is coming in on budget.

That’s despite the fact the township had to approve another $700,000 project to build a workshop and repair the drainage around the building – something staff said was required because of the construction.

“So the whole project is targeted and on budget to the $11.5 million allocated by council. (We’re) at $10.6 million, almost $10.7 million, which is under budget for a project. So that’s really, really exciting. And that’s before, of course, the donations,” said Gubbels.

The fundraising committee has a goal of raising $2 million to offset the cost of the new building to taxpayers. The group hasn’t made an official announcement in a number of months but Mayor Jackie Rombouts said at last word the group had commitments for about $1.6 million. And she’s expecting an announcement of more to come.

Gubbels says that, coupled with a number of grants which the township has applied for, the cost to taxpayers could be in the $8.6 million range.

Gubbels says the township will have to finance some of the cost when the project is complete.

After a number of stops and starts because of the pandemic, Deputy Mayor Jerry Westgate is pleased the complex is close to opening.

“I want to congradulate staff to for getting it going so fast at the end here. Maybe it wasn’t so fast but at least it is going to be done,” he said.

Council also approved the fees for renting the new hall. They’ll be significantly more with for example the rental of the full hall going from $200 to $350.

Council did change some of the rental fees staff suggested, particularly for youth groups and funerals.

Staff suggested a $75 fee for youth and community groups to use the facility. That worried Councillor Colin Mitchell who is a leader with the Boy Scouts.

“I just ran the numbers for our group … where we would be paying about $1,600 a year for rental fees, this number raises it well out of the market at $6,000 a year,” he said.

“We already rely on this community for a lot of fundraising for so much. We are a break even, not for profit organization, that in previous years, we’re touching 60 families within this community on a weekly basis. These are families that sometimes don’t have enough to even pay the program fees so we have a no Scouter left behind policy. Your pricing has taken the joy out of this new facility.”

Councillors agreed it was too high for community groups and returned it to the previous $20 per night with the understanding the Scouts would move if there was another group willing to pay the full fee on a regular Scout evening.