The East Lions Community Centre is complete, four years after the $21.4-million project’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Construction for the 42,000-square-foot centre was mired with delays due to contracting issues. It was intended to open in 2019, but the original contractor was fired after sub-contractors complained of non-payment. Perini Construction eventually took over.
“It has been such an arduous journey to get here, and it feels like literally everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong,” said Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis.
“Whether that’s been material issues or labour issues or COVID or work that had to be redone, there’s been so many barriers, and it’s been so frustrating to have multiple summers in a row where we’ve had no community pool in the east end for the kids to use.”
During a tour of the completed community centre for the media, Lewis said he’s been eager to see the finishing touches on what he considers to be a much-needed hub for those living in the east London neighbourhood.
“I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve,” said Lewis. “The present is wrapped and it’s under the tree.”
The centre’s teaching kitchen has one fridge, two stoves, two ovens and stainless steel countertops. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
Features of the East Lions Community Centre, located at 1731 Churchill Ave., include:
- One six-lane, 25 meter lap pool
- One smaller leisure pool
- One double gymnasium
- Two multi-purpose rooms
- Two art rooms
- One studio for activities like dance and yoga
- One community kitchen
- Reading lounge and study space
- One outdoor playground
- Solar panels on roof generating power for the building
- Universal changing rooms
The activity studio has a sprung hardwood floor, ballet bar and floor to ceiling mirrors. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
The community centre’s design allows for an optimal amount of natural lighting, notably in its double gymnasium and aquatic centre.
“It’s all modern techniques, energy efficient, and we’re very proud of it,” said Tim Wellhauser, director of fleet and facilities for the City of London.
The aquatic centre has a six-lane, 25-meter lap pool and a smaller leisure pool for recreational swims, lane swims, women-only swimming and aquafit programs. (Angela McInnes/CBC)
East Lions was built to accommodate a range of recreational programs developed by the City of London. When it opens to the public on Dec. 17, Londoners can register to try any city-run activity at East Lions for free until Jan. 17.
Lewis said the space will create opportunities for “intergenerational connections” between neighbours.
“It’s the opportunity for teens to come on a Friday night and have a space to play basketball or floor hockey. It’s an opportunity for seniors to come and do yoga or play shuffleboard or pickleball in the park. There’s just something here for everyone,” he said.
“It’s going to be a space that people are going to come in and they’re going to enjoy. They’re going to feel welcome here.”
Anyone is welcome to register for an activity at the East Lions Community Centre at the City of London’s website.