LONDON, ONT. -- Better late than never. The long-awaited East Lions Community Centre is expected to be open to the public this year, after several delays.

The outside amenities will be open in the next few weeks, just in time for summer activities, according to Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis.

“After staring out my window looking at a construction site sitting idle it’s really rewarding to see the activity really picking up the pace,” said Lewis.

Lewis said the outside amenities will boast tennis and pickleball courts which will convert into a skating rink in winter. There will be play structures for younger children. And it will have walking paths, and a rain garden.

It can’t come soon enough say neighbourhood residents Tonya and Chris Ferguson. “Frustrating at times but now it’s looking like there’s an end coming so the positive is in sight,” said Chris.

Tonya said families have been watching and waiting as the centre took shape. Slowly. But not always so surely.

“I think just having access to the field and stuff if people want to take their kids outside or anything like that, if they’re in a small townhouse or in a condo. They want to be outside in fresh air with everything that’s going on.”

Bogged down by delay after delay, the centre was originally supposed to open its doors by the fall of 2018. Lewis said anything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

“We had supply delays, starting with the original shipment of steel structure for the building. There’s been labour disruptions. Provincewide plummers’ strike. A disruption with sheet metal workers. We had to sever ties with a contractor, a subcontractor, and the general contractor who had bid on the job.”

Lewis pointed out that the $21.5 million project is now in the hands of a bonding company, and taxpayers will not be on the hook for cost overages.

In the meantime neighbour Hallie Abran said it will be nice to see the site come to life again.

“There used to be soccer here every other night. But that quit. It’s been kind of lonely not seeing people out and not seeing them enjoying the vast yard and whatnot over there.”