Construction underway on $65 million Pickering Heritage & Community Centre

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Published April 4, 2024 at 4:42 pm

The ceremonial shovel hit the ground Thursday on the nearly $65 million Pickering Heritage & Community Centre on the Pickering Museum Village grounds, a project that is expected to take nearly two years to complete.

Work on the much-delayed 44,000 square-foot facility is now underway, with construction contracted to J.R. Certus Construction Co. Ltd. The innovative design is a collaborative effort between Hariri Pontarini Architects, City staff and the community and will boast an array of unique amenities, including:

  • Exhibit gallery
  • Program room
  • Multi-purpose hall (with a stage)
  • Kitchen (suitable for public programs)
  • Collections storage
  • Gift shop and coffee bar
  • Outdoor program spaces

“This milestone marks Pickering’s first new community centre in decades, and our first zero-carbon facility. This project reaffirms our steadfast commitment to preserving local arts and natural heritage, while spearheading sustainable initiatives to build a strong, more resilient community for generations to come,” Mayor Kevin Ashe said at the groundbreaking, while also thanking the federal government for $16.5 million in grants from Infrastructure Canada ($12.5 million) and Heritage Canada ($4 million) to get the project up and running.

The community centre will be the City’s first net zero facility, featuring enhanced insulation, triple glazed windows, solar panels, air source heat pumps and other similar features that in combination will meet the net zero design targets for the project.

It will also be Pickering’s first new recreation facility built since the community centre named for former Mayor (and father of the city’s current mayor) George Ashe more than 20 years ago.

The Pickering Heritage and Community Centre has been an ongoing project from a design perspective since 2018 and the City had already spent nearly $2 million before any shovel hit the ground. COVID delayed the facility and the subsequent supply chain issues that plagued projects all around the world then conspired to drive the price up.

“Cultural spaces are part of the foundation that creates healthy, vibrant communities where visitors can discover our diverse heritage and learn more about who we are,” said federal Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge. “By enhancing its infrastructure, we are helping the Pickering Heritage & Community Centre to … continue to inspire, bring people together and allow everyone to learn from our shared history.”

Pickering Council finally accepted a construction tender for the project in February after saying no to three bids in 2023 as being too far over budget.

The bid was approved by a 5-1 vote at a Special Council meeting with Councillor Lisa Robinson the lone dissenting vote.

The project will be funded through a variety of means, including $2.4 million from the Library Reserve Fund, $8 million from the Parks and Recreation Reserve Fund and the federal grants.

Nearly $8.3 million will be financed through debentures, which are expected to be repaid by future development charges with annual repayment charges estimated at $759,359 per year.

“Our government is proud to support the Pickering Heritage & Community Centre. “Thanks to this funding,” Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell said, “Pickering’s community will be able to preserve and celebrate its diverse heritage for generations to come.”

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