More money, more time, but still no date to open long-delayed community centre
LONDON, ONT -- City hall is no longer willing to estimate the completion date for the delay-plagued East Lions Community Centre.
The $22-million community centre being constructed on Wavell Street will include a pool, gymnasium, and community space... when its finished.
“We don’t want to set a firm date and set false expectations. We’re all hoping for as soon as possible,” explains Scott Stafford, Managing Director of Parks and Recreation.
The east London neighbourhood had their existing pool and community space demolished during the first phase of construction.
Since then, they’ve watched work on the replacement stall several times.
“Its frustrating. Everyone has been waiting, kids have been waiting,” says neighbour Bobbi Curtis.
Initially, a delay getting steel and a labour dispute delayed construction and moved the opening beyond spring 2019.
Last winter, many Londoners signed up for swimming and aquatics classes scheduled for Spring 2020, only to have them cancelled.
Councillor Shawn Lewis is now tempering the public’s expectations.
“I want it to be as soon as possible, but we don’t have a date yet,” admits the ward two councillor.
Lewis has monitored progress from his house across the street.
“It was about a year ago that we had a major subcontractor leave the job, and then in the summer the city removed the general contractor from the job,” explains Lewis. “I had hoped things would get smoothed out a little quicker than they did, but lawyers were involved.”
The company that insured the project has hired a new contractor, Perini Construction, who first inspected the previous work, and is now aligning sub-contractors to complete the project.
Council is also being asked to advance the projected an additional $426,000 to cover unanticipated consulting fees.
“Once the project is complete, we’ll be able to submit some of those extra costs that we have (to the insurer),” adds Stafford.
Lewis worries the repeated delays have tarnished the project.
“The bloom has certainly come off the flower in terms of the excitement. People are frustrated,” he says.
“Kids are waiting, they know this is being built, and parents are waiting and senior citizens. This whole community is waiting,” says Bobbi Curtis.
The Community and Protective Services Committee will receive an update about construction of the community centre on Dec 15.