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Bradford Community Centre project coming back into focus this year

A report on the project is expected to come to council early this year
The preferred concept plan of the Bradford Community Centre project. Miriam King/Bradford Today

It's been talked about for the past five years, the revitalization of the Bradford & District Memorial Community Centre, but when and how will it happen is still being figured out. 

The town has been working with consulting firm MHBC Planning since June 2017 to finalize plans for the future of the 18-acre site and existing facilities at 125 Simcoe Rd. 

The Bradford & District Memorial Community Centre (BCC) was built by volunteers, in the 1950s. To consider the reuse of the historic and important building, the town first needs to assess its condition, what upgrades may be needed, and the potential for expansion or reuse.

In August 2018, after months of public consultation and input, which identified a long list of "desired" amenities, council adopted a "preferred concept" for the site. 

The zoning bylaw amendment required for the project to move forward would see 10 Edward St., 103, 111, 129 and 141 Simcoe Rd. be re-zoned as “institutional exception,” which would include several site-specific provisions.

The municipality currently owns most of the properties being rezoned, except for 10 Edward St. and the Bradford Curling Club. 

The plan proposed the construction of a new administration centre and multipurpose building that would house community services, a performing arts centre, a County of Simcoe affordable housing project, underground parking, sheltered space for a farmers' market, and both active and passive recreational uses.

The total cost, to realize all of the plans, was estimated at $107.8 million.  

The town applied for a $50M grant in 2019 to help with the costs but was unsuccessful. 

In February 2021, CAO Geoff McKnight advised council to rethink its plans for the centre, and look at ways to create a more realistic budget at $58 million for the project, including $35 million for the new town hall, $15 million for the redevelopment of the overall site, and $8 million for the council chamber/performing art centre. 

So far, the county has already agreed to fund the 50-unit affordable housing project on the southwest corner of the site, with plans to be completed by end of 2023. The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury has approved the waiving of fees for the site plan, development engineering, and building permit applications. In addition, the town has offered to contribute toward the cost of relocating the overland stormwater flow route through the site.

In a December meeting of BWG Council, councillors discussed two redevelopment proposals, one for lands near the community centre. 

As for the rest of the site, McKnight says over the past few months, the municipality has been focused on design and planning for the community hub project at 177 Church St., but now that tendering of that project is moving forward, attention can return to the community centre redevelopment project. 

"We expect to present council with a report on the BCC early this year," he said. "Once the future of the BCC is determined, we will refine concept plans and cost estimates for the administration centre/multipurpose building as well as the outdoor recreation and community space amenities.  We will also be connecting with the Bradford Curling Club to discuss their plans for the future."

McKnight says the town is targeting to have the refinement of the concept plans done this summer, at which point they would be able to move forward with detailed design and tendering in a timeframe that council sees fit. 

-with files from Patrick Bales