The long-awaited South End Community Centre is officially going ahead, putting to rest a south end councillor’s tongue-in-cheek threat to start construction on her own.
City council gave formal approval on Tuesday to a revised plan and budget for the SECC, which now sits at an estimated $115.5 million.
“I have threatened to do the groundbreaking myself many times,” Ward 6 councillor Dominique O’Rourke told GuelphToday after the meeting, noting the facility is for all Guelph residents. “It’s going to be a much-needed facility. We’re growing much faster than we had anticipated back in 2000 when those conversations started.”
Plans for a south end centre have been in the works since 2003, when it was first identified in a development charges study. It was also identified on various needs assessments since 2009.
Construction is expected to kick off with a groundbreaking ceremony later this year. Opening is tentatively planned for 2026.
“I’m going to be excited for that ground-breaking when it happens,” commented fellow Ward 5 councillor Ken Yee Chew.
“I’ll definitely be there with bells on,” added O’Rourke. “I think it’s going to be very celebratory. We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of community members there as well.”
First approved in 2020 with a budget of $80 million, the project was paused last year after construction bids came in significantly over that amount, with the lowest being for $121 million.
Since then the city brought on a construction manager for the project, leading to revisions of the plan that don’t directly impact the amenities or programming to be offered there, staff told council.
The SECC was planned as a 165,000-square-foot facility to be built off Clair Road beside Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, just north of the Larry Pearson baseball complex, and set to include a 25-metre pool with eight lanes, two gyms, two ice pads, indoor walking track and five meeting rooms.
Funding for the SECC will primarily come from development charges that have already been collected for several years, with taxpayer supported debt also expected.