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$75M vision for BWG community centre unveiled

The $75-million price tag does not include the cost of acquiring four Simcoe Road homes, which is recommended in the proposal.

A new Civic Hub, outdoor performance area and walking trails are part of a new $75-million vision for the Bradford & District Memorial Community Centre, but the future of the existing community centre space and the curling club is unknown.

MHBC Planning consultants, hired by the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, presented a “preferred option” for the future of the Simcoe Road community centre and Centennial Park on Wednesday.

“This is our effort to try to balance that input (from residents and stakeholders), try to achieve an enhanced site, not just for the downtown but for all of Bradford,” said MHBC partner Eldon Theodore. “What you see on the plan is a collection of ideas, within a space.”

He suggested the vision, if accepted by town council, could be phased in to give the town time to work on financing.

The $75-million price tag includes $55 million just for the proposed Civic Hub, which would be nearly 22,000 square metres in size, but it does not include the cost of acquiring four adjacent Simcoe Road homes, which the proposal recommends. 

Currently, the property is occupied by the community centre, Bradford Curling Club, two tennis courts, two ball diamonds, a skatepark, full soccer pitch and a number of mini-pitches.

The preferred option envisions the redevelopment of the property:

  • New open areas for passive recreation
  • Splash pad
  • Outdoor performance space
  • Walking trails
  • New Civic Hub that would house the town’s administration offices and social services
  • New basketball court, tennis court and skatepark
  • An area for affordable housing located in the southwest corner of the property

Extensive parking is also proposed — more than 450 outdoor spots and another 250 in underground parking beneath the Civic Hub.

In the vision, the mini-pitches are retained, but both the full-sized field and the ball diamonds would be relocated to another site, and the number of tennis courts would be cut by 50 per cent.

It also defers a decision on the future of both the community centre building and the curling club.

Theodore was quick to explain what was presented was a “vision” for the future and not set in stone.

“This plan is not firm. This plan is flexible. There are a lot of elements that can be withdrawn,” he said, asking for further input before the plan is presented to town council.

The plan takes into consideration the location of the floodplain in mapping out options for open air recreation, including trails and flex space, and tries to address community concerns over multipurpose space, affordable housing, and the preservation of the Bradford Curling Club, Theodore said.

When asked why the proposed option includes a new stand-alone, multi-story Civic Hub, instead of reusing the existing community centre, Theodore said it comes down to cost.

“Building a new building is more cost-effective than adaptive reuse of a building. Substantially more cost-effective,” he said, adding town council will decide how the project if funded.

BWG Mayor Rob Keffer attended the session, and he noted the preferred option presented a vision for change over the long term.

“It’s not a speedy process. I hope people realize that,” he said.

Town staff were also on-hand to answer questions. Addressing concerns over the future of the Bradford Curling Club, Director of Community Services Terry Foran said that whatever is decided, the town will work with the club to ensure its preservation and avoid any disruption of the curling season.

Foran called the plan “very conceptual” at this point and a reflection of the potential of the downtown property.

“The community is recognizing the value of this property,” he said.

Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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