The federal and Ontario governments are providing a combined $1.37 million to support the construction of a new community hub in downtown Bancroft.
On Thursday, officials announced the government of Canada is providing $749,960 through the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada plan, while the province is providing $624,904 for the construction of the North Hastings Community Hub. The Town of Bancroft is contributing $500,036 to the community hub.
The fully accessible, 4,000-square-foot community hub on Cleak Avenue — which will include space for the North Hastings Public Library — will be on the ground floor of a new, three-storey, mixed-use building with 20 affordable housing units.
Construction on the project is expected to begin this fall with a target of opening no later than March 2023.
The announcement was made by Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities, along with Hastings-Lennox and Addington MPP Daryl Kramp on behalf of Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott, the MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“Better public spaces are at the heart of inclusive, sustainable and welcoming communities where people want to live, work and raise a family,” said McKenna.
“The federal contribution of more than $749,000 to the North Hastings Community Hub will provide a new home for the library and new homes for residents in need, making the community more accessible and inclusive. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”
Kramp says once it is completed, Bancroft residents will make “great use” of the new community space and it will be accessible to everyone, including the many cottagers in the North Hastings region. The project was initially announced in 2019 but was awaiting funding and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He says the hub will be an “anchor” in the community.
“I am delighted that it is receiving funding under this federal-provincial program,” he said. “I look forward to the future and the many roles it will serve for our community.”
“I think this will have an exceptionally high usage – this is money well-spent,” Kramp said during a media conference.
Bancroft Mayor Paul Jenkins says the community hub project will benefit the region and revitalize and change the course of the downtown, calling it a “game-changing opportunity.”
“We thank everyone involved for transforming this vision into a reality with special thanks to the federal and provincial governments,” he said.
Jenkins says the catchment area ranges between 15,000 and 50,000 people, depending on the time of the year, noting that the pandemic is pushing the population upwards with many moving to the region permanently.
“This combination of two separate projects and entities in one facility provides a very efficient use of land and financial resources that otherwise would have been very difficult to do,” said Jenkins, stressing the affordable housing aspect is a private initiative not receiving any government funding.
Jenkins noted the library has served the region since 1901 in several locations, including in a former jailhouse, and currently resides in a former Bell Telephone building that is cramped and “totally unaccessible.”
“The new location will open many opportunities and create a setting that’s both accessible and inclusive,” said Jenkins.
— More to come.
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