A look at Hagersville’s new Library + Active Living Centre

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

HAGERSVILLE — Last week, Hagersville residents were invited to take part in public meetings related to the in-development Library + Active Living Centre (ALC) to be built at Grant Kett Park.

The Press spoke with General Manager of Community and Development Services Mike Evers for an update on the project, which was first announced just over two years ago.

Evers explained the origins of the project, which arose following a failed grant application for infrastructure funding in 2019, which led County staff to research the ways a multi-use facility could help maximize public resources in the community.

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The project was included in the 2021 County budget, with an estimated $10.4 million price tag, $1.5 million of which was to be raised by a Community Fundraising Committee.

In the time since, Evers said the committee has raised the $1.5 million, with their sights set on $2 million. In addition, County staff worked together with the Hagersville Chamber of Commerce last year on the sale of the Hagersville Community Centre, which ultimately raised an additional $700,000 towards the new facility. 

In terms of the architectural and site design work for the project, Haldimand selected CGS Architects Inc. of Hamilton as the proponent in February, “Since then, staff and the architects have met with various stakeholder groups — including the Hagersville Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce — about the design, functionality, programming and operations of the facility. Early engagement with First Nations neighbours on the design and future programming has also taken place,” said Evers. 

Despite the project taking shape during the Covid pandemic, County staff worked to hold a series of public meetings and created a dedicated space on the County’s website where residents could provide input on the project.

HAGERSVILLE— An updated look at the floorplan for the in-development Library + Active Living Centre in Hagersville. The design incorporates community input gathered over two years of public meetings and consultations. —Photo courtesy of Haldimand County.

“Staff also met with community groups and organizations, Council Advisory Committees and individuals to discuss the design and functionality of the space, all in an effort to maximize use and access. In 2022, public information centres were set up in the Hagersville Public Library and Hagersville Arena for three months to keep the project top of mind with the community and generate engagement and feedback. The grassroots engagement of the Community Fundraising Committee volunteers also resulted in valuable input into the facility,” said Evers.

Evers touched on some of the design changes that will be implemented to the facility following the community input, including expanding from two to three pickle ball courts, and the inclusion of a full-sized basketball court.

“The community wanted to ensure there were adequate programming and socialization spaces for all ages and interests including recreation, leisure, arts and crafts, maker spaces, culture, games, and more. Residents and users were clear the ALC has to be a space for more than recreation, as it serves as the community’s space for public and private events, including fundraisers, dances, weddings, family occasions, and much more.”

He continued, “Staff wanted to ensure the geography of the location would be maximized, with views over the park and quarry, and a nod to the community’s history of stone and gypsum.”

Additionally, with an adjacent subdivision being subsequently approved, Hagersville will also receive a new trail that will easily transport area residents to Grant Kett Park and the new facility.

Evers said that with Hagersville listed as Haldimand’s second-fastest growing community, the facility will fill a gap in terms of recreation, leisure, socialization and community programming in Hagersville and its surrounding communities, in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.

“The approach to co-locate complementary services maximizes taxpayer resources and service delivery to a diverse, multi-generational population and creates a central community hub in the town, especially on a property with existing amenities such as the arena, ball diamonds, outdoor amphitheatre, and playground,” he said.

The facility will join already-existing multi-use facilities in the county such as Cayuga’s Library + Heritage Centre and the Haldimand County Caledonia Centre, which houses an arena, library, and community centre in one place.

Evers praised the facilities for the opportunities they provide for “unique, collaborative programming… The intentional bringing together of complementary activities in an accessible facility creates an environment of community gathering and engagement, with an almost unlimited opportunity for innovative, multi-generational programming. There are also efficiencies associated with construction and ongoing operations (servicing, staff, maintenance).”

According to Evers, detailed design, engineering, and site planning will take place in 2023, with permitting and construction beginning in 2024, and anticipated occupancy by mid-2025.