Renewal of W.J. Henderson Centre endorsed by Loyalist Township

A conceptual drawing of the new Loyalist Township Community Hub, which will see the current W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre retrofitted and upgraded. Graphic via Loyalist Township.

During a Special Council Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, Loyalist Township Council endorsed the renewal of the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre, which will include the construction of a new aquatic facility.

According to a release from the Township, at the meeting, Council received 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.

The Township said that this project phase represents an “improvement to the services which have historically been offered at the facility to meet the needs of a growing Loyalist community.” It should be noted, however, that residents of Amherst Island who contacted Kingstonist in advance of the special meeting voiced disapproval of the use of $1,135,908 from the Renewable Energy Benefit Fund for the project — that fund, Amherst Island residents said, is made up of funding from the companies behind the Island’s wind and solar energy projects, and should therefore benefit those on the Island directly, as opposed to the entire Township.

The scope of work for this phase of the project will involve the following program and performance targets, as outlined in the release:

  • The construction of a new aquatic facility comprising an eight-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 a family change room;
  • Incorporating new Indigenous Legacy Space, in collaboration with the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund;
  • Incorporating energy conservation measures throughout the facility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with its operations;
  • Designing the building to be Net-Zero ready, meaning that the amount of energy needed to operate the building in a given year can be produced directly on site in the future, typically through the use of solar panels;
  • Keeping the building operational during construction and minimizing facility and programming downtime.

“For more than 40 years the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre has been a place where generations of Loyalist residents learned to swim, skate, and connect with one another. This renewal will ensure that we can provide access to recreation and support community building for current and future generations”, stated Loyalist Township Mayor, Jim Hegadorn.

The phased construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2024 to minimize the impact on arena programming, the Township noted. Substantial completion of the entire project including the aquatics centre is reportedly projected to be completed by January 2026. The Township said its team will be connecting with arena users to better inform them of upcoming arena construction and what they can look forward to for the 2024/ 2025 season.

The capital cost of the project accepted through validation is $49.5 million. As part of the funding plan, the Township secured up to $16.5 million in funding toward the project through Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Building (GICB) program, which is meant to support green and accessible retrofits to existing community buildings.

In addition to the GICB funding, the Township said that costs associated with the project will be covered through a combination of:

  • existing reserve funds
  • general rate capital contributions
  • partnerships
  • development charges
  • community fundraising efforts
  • sponsorship and naming rights
  • debt servicing

The City of Kingston has expressed an interest in contributing funding towards the capital costs of the project. According to the release, this partnership represents a short-term solution to address the gaps in aquatic services currently experienced by the City as it investigates options to offer additional programming in the medium and long terms. A resolution passed at the September 5, 2023, Kingston City Council Meeting approved a contribution of up to $6,550,000 to support the aquatic component of the project. This contribution is conditional on giving City of Kingston residents equal access to recreation programming at the new facility for a period of 20 years. According to the release, the terms of this agreement have yet to be determined. Township Council authorized Staff to negotiate the terms of an agreement with the City of Kingston which would be agreeable to both parties.

The Township said it will also continue to seek additional grant opportunities to support the project, with several applications submitted and currently under review. 

Loyalist Township shared the following ways for residents to get involved with the project:

Stay Up to Date

We encourage residents and interested parties to stay tuned for future updates outlining the phased openings of other new and exciting facility amenities including accessible viewing areas, meeting rooms, arena upgrades and more by registering for our email list: www.loyalist.ca/RecCentreRenewalEmails/

Get Involved

As part of the renewal of the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre, a community fundraising campaign will kick off in the new year. Interested individuals and groups are encouraged to stay tuned for further information on how they can get involved with community fundraising efforts. Learn other ways to get involved: www.loyalist.ca/GetInvolved

Learn More

Learn more about the project including the project overview, budget and funding, timelines, news, ways to get involved, background, FAQs, reports and more by visiting www.loyalist.ca/RecCentreRenewal/

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