Construction begins at W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre

A conceptual drawing of the new Loyalist Township Community Hub, which will see the current W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre retrofitted and upgraded, thanks to a large financial injection from the federal government. Graphic via Loyalist Township.

More than a year after Loyalist Township requested community feedback on the development of a new Community Hub located at the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre in Amherstview, construction has begun.

On Saturday, Mar. 23, 2024, Mayor Jim Hegadorn, members of Loyalist Township Council, and staff celebrated the beginning of construction on the eagerly anticipated renewal of the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre, according to a release from the Township.

“On behalf of Council, I want to express our excitement to begin work on the renewal of the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre. This modern energy-efficient facility will provide a wonderful community space and recreation amenities for people of all ages and abilities to play, learn and connect with one another for generations to come,” Mayor Hegadorn stated.

According to the release, the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre has played a significant role in the lives of Loyalist residents since it opened in September 1976. Since that time, many families gathered at the Centre where they learned to skate, swim, read and make social connections.

The Township noted that construction on the Recreation Centre will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by January 2026.

“I am proud to announce the start of the retrofits to this Centre, upgrades that will change the trajectory of this historical infrastructure in Amherstview, thanks to the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Program,” said Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands.

“We are beginning a new chapter of accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability which will provide more comfort for users, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create a more healthy and safe environment.”

The total cost for construction is estimated to be $43.8 million. In December 2022, the Government of Canada announced an investment of over $16.5 million in this project through Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program (GICB).

According to the Township, the scope of work involved in this phase of construction includes:

  • The construction of a new aquatic facility comprising an 8-lane, 25-metre pool as well as a separate warm-water leisure pool
  • Undertaking accessibility upgrades throughout the existing facility, including the addition of a lift, accessible change rooms, and barrier-free viewing areas
  • Installing new aquatic change rooms, including the creation of family change rooms
  • Incorporating a new Indigenous Legacy Space in the facility, in collaboration with the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund
  • Incorporating energy conservation measures throughout the facility to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Designing the building to be Net-Zero ready

The Community Hub at the W.J. Henderson Centre — a brief timeline

After multiple issues with the aging infrastructure at the W.J. Henderson Centre – particularly with the pool services, which had not been operational since March 2022 – Loyalist Township announced a partnership with BGC South East to offer aquatics programming at YMCA facilities locally in June 2022. At the time, Loyalist Council was discussing the options and financial feasibility of retrofitting the old pool and/or developing a new recreation centre at the site of the W.J. Henderson Centre.

By December 2022, current plan for a Community Hub at the W.J. Henderson Centre was well underway, with the federal government supporting the development with a $16.5 million investment.

As mentioned above, by January 2023, Loyalist Township was seeking public feedback on the development of the new Community Hub, followed by an update on what that public feedback study found in May 2023.

In September of 2023, Kingston City Council voted to contribute $6.5 million to the new pool project in Amherstview, and in November 2023, Loyalist Township Council endorsed the renewal of the W.J. Henderson Centre – including the new construction project – after receiving a “Validation Report,” which summarized the proposed design for the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre Renewal project along with the costs, strategies, and timelines for the implementation of the first phase of the project

Learn more about the project at https://www.wjrenewal.ca/.

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