The ceremonial shovels are in the ground at the future Muskoka Lumber Community Centre, ahead of Aquicon Construction putting the real shovels in the ground Monday.
“Day one as mayor this is when the project kind of started for me and here we are almost at the end of three terms later and finally getting it in the ground,” Mayor Graydon Smith said during the Thursday ceremony. “It took a lot of planning, a lot of fortitude, a lot of saving of money, a lot of ups and downs and all arounds.”
The 113,640 square foot community centre will include an area, with room for a second, library, indoor multi-sport fieldhouse, auditorium, outdoor play spaces, and parking.
“We’ve had great facilities that have served us well, longer than we’ve intended,” Smith said. Notably, the current library on Manitoba St. was built in 1908 and last renovated in 1984. Meanwhile, the Bracebridge Memorial Arena was built in 1949.
“What’s been clear from the beginning is there were a lot of people interested in new facilities,” Smith said.
The current expectation from Aquicon and Colliers Project Leaders, who are overseeing the project for the town, is that construction will wrap up on the community centre by the summer of 2024.
“We’re thrilled to see the project break ground considering the challenges we’ve had over the budget,” Alessandra Aquino, Project Manager for Aquicon, said. “It was the fact that we came as a team. We were able to bring that project budget down and get here today.”
The aforementioned budget is set at just under $59 million. Town staff worked with Aquicon and Fowler Construction, who handled preparing the site for the contractor, to shave $8 million off the contract cost in December 2021. Still, the project came in well over the $45 million town staff estimated the building would cost.
During the ceremony, Smith thanked the 13 businesses who have signed on for naming rights, including Muskoka Lumber who will be contributing $2 million over the next two decades. He also noted the $17 million in funding that was announced by the provincial government for the project in July.