LONDON, ONT. -- Almost a year after a devastating fire destroyed its predecessor, construction is wrapping up on the new community centre in Thorndale.

“It’s never going to be this quiet again,” says the Mayor of Thames Centre Alison Warwick during a tour of the building. “I expect to see people playing sports, I expect to see meetings being held, it’s going to be a hive of activity here.”

Last February, Thorndale residents were devastated to see their community centre destroyed by fire.

The community’s resilience was tested, but even in the midst of a pandemic, Thorndale moved forward.

Residents united behind a $2.8 million plan, already approved by municipal council, to build a new facility.

Seven months after the project broke ground, it’s on the verge of completion.

“Obviously, losing our last community centre was a big blow to the community. It’s exiting to see this go up, I know everyone has been watching it,” says Deputy Mayor Kelly Elliott.

The building includes a large gymnasium, three meeting rooms, and kitchen.

Every room in the facility bears the name of a local sponsor.

“Everybody has stepped up to the plate, you can measure that excitement by how easily that money was raised,” explains the mayor.

Decades of memories from weddings and community events will always be linked to the building lost to the fire, but Thorndale‘s new community centre is poised to make new memories.

“We have four subdivisions with draft plan approval here in Thorndale, so obviously it is a growing community,” adds Elliott. “This community centre is double the footprint of our old community centre.”

Thames Centre Council has also approved construction of a new field house that will offer food and support the existing sports fields around the community centre.

Neighbours who have patiently watched the community centre rise from the ashes of its predecessor.. will need to wait just a bit longer.

Lisa Givens, who walks her dogs near the building, is willing to be patient, “With everybody in lockdown, it’s nice to have something to look forward to.”

“There’s going to be a lot of smiling faces, a lot of laughter, remembering the memories I the old community centre and what’s to come in the new community centre.

Work continues on some of the building’s finishing touches.

An opening date for the public will be determined when pandemic restrictions permit.