Highlights of the Town of BWG Special Committee of the Whole Meeting – February 1, 2021
This special meeting was held to review the various facility developments underway and envisioned for the future to accommodate the needs of the growing municipality of BWG.
New fire hall and operations centre on track to be under budget
A cascading series of projects has been underway for the last couple of years to construct a larger fire hall and make more room for operations functions including water services and transportation (public works). The plan saves a considerable amount of money by repurposing existing facilities and constructing new ones on property the Town already owns.
On the Town’s property on Line 11, a transportation storage facility and a water operations facility were completed in May of 2020 and these departments have now moved in. By moving public works storage off the property behind the current fire hall at 75 Melbourne Drive, space was opened up to construct the new fire hall. Construction of the new hall is well underway and work is now beginning inside the building.
Once Fire & Emergency Services moves into the new hall – projected to happen this fall – the old hall will be refurbished to accommodate operations staff.
The total project is tracking to come in approximately $195,000 under the $12.9M budget.
New hub will bring social and community services under one roof
Council approved the purchase of the former Bradford Elementary School at 177 Church Street in late 2020, with plans to put a long-discussed idea into action – to create a central hub that could house numerous community and social services under one roof.
This idea was explored with key stakeholders in January 2020, when Deputy Mayor Leduc brought local community service partners together to discuss whether leasable space in a central location might help them better serve their clients. There was resounding support, and suggested tenants included social support services, a skills development centre, the food bank, not-for-profit offices, a commercial kitchen, flex-use community space, meeting rooms, a small business support centre and more.
The Committee of the Whole has now supported a series of next steps, starting with getting consultation on cost estimates to reconfigure the 28,600-ft2 building on three acres of property. Staff will report back to council with a draft business plan outlining capital and operating cost estimates, a leasing strategy and a construction timeframe including phasing options.
One of the organizations interested in moving to the communal space, the Helping Hand Food Bank, needs to relocate as soon as possible since its current space is too small and in need of repair. Staff and the consultant will work with representatives of the Helping Hand Food Bank to see if it is possible to renovate a suitable portion of the building and allow the food bank to move in ahead of the other reconstruction work
Plans to be updated and refined for Bradford Community Centre and property
Work began in 2017 to decide the future of the 18-acre property at 125 Simcoe Road, which includes the 65-year-old Bradford & District Memorial Community Centre and the Bradford Curling Club. Months of public consultation went into developing an ideal scenario, with the expectation that a final plan would be completed once funding sources were explored.
The full revisioning plan was submitted for consideration to a Federal/Provincial grant program; however, the Town was notified in August 2020 that the grant application was not successful. With this source of funds off the table, the plan must now be updated and refined to fit within a reduced budget. Additionally, some of the services that were anticipated to be housed at this location will now be part of the community hub at 177 Church Street.
The Committee of the Whole supported a recommendation that staff proceed with preparing a cost/benefit analysis of renovating the Bradford & District Memorial Community Centre to better serve its function as a multi-purpose facility and event space. Staff will also obtain revised cost estimates for a reduced scale multi-purpose building to house Town administration offices and a combined performing arts space and council chambers. Plans for the outdoor recreation amenities will be reviewed and dialogue will continue with the Bradford Curling Club to decide whether they prefer their current location or an alternate site. Work will also continue with Simcoe County on the development of affordable housing at the southwest corner of the property.