Labatt Park among 6 London sites to see $7.1M in federal, provincial infrastructure funds

The sign for Labatt Park as seen along Riverside Drive. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

London’s historic Labatt Memorial Park is among six local sites set to receive more than $7.1 million in infrastructure funding from senior levels of government, local politicians said Thursday.

The funding, unveiled as part of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, will see nearly $1.5 million in federal and provincial dollars put toward new bleachers, upgraded field lighting, and the installation of accessible washrooms at the city-owned stadium.

Roughly $814,000 will come from Ottawa for the project, while $687,266 will come from Queen’s Park. The city itself will fork over $542,735.

The city will also receive $748,000 in federal and $623,271 in provincial funding for upgrades at its Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre.

That project, for which the city will kick in $498,729, will see the installation of an elevator, improvements to building components such as doors, windows, and bricks, and the retrofitting of an existing multi-purpose space into a teaching kitchen, meeting rooms, and storage unit.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Liberals tap $2.75B in planned transit funding for electric buses

Read next: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy revokes citizenship of numerous former politicians

Other major beneficiaries of the announcement include the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, which will receive nearly $4 million from the province and feds for major renovations at its Bob Hayward and Stoney Creek branches. For its part, the YMCA will kick in a combined $1.44 million.

In particular, Bob Hayward will have its hot water storage tanks, boiler plant and piping, and air distribution system replaced, while Stoney Creek will see the construction of an addition onto it’s second floor. Both facilities will also receive lighting upgrades.

Elsewhere, Participation House Support Services – London and Area will see $229,156 to install an elevator at its Community Place North facility, while Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre will receive just over $116,000 for upgraded electrical and HVAC systems. Participation House will contribute $83,344 and Glen Cairn $42,222 to the respective projects.

“Let’s face it, upgrading heating systems and lights, installing elevators and replacing hot water storage tanks may not seem that exciting, but it is so important to keeping our community facilities running smoothly,” said London West MP Kate Young during Thursday’s virtual announcement.

Young was joined alongside MP Peter Fragiskatos, MPP Jeff Yurek, London Mayor Ed Holder, and Jon-Paul McGonigle of the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

Story continues below advertisement

“Partnerships are key to supporting communities across the country, and that is why our government is working closely with provinces, with municipalities and stakeholders to get projects built quickly,” she said.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine pilot at some Ontario pharmacies to begin next week with Oxford-AstraZeneca

Read next: Eyes glued to Carolina skies as suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down by U.S.

During his remarks, Holder praised the funding announcement, thanking the federal and provincial infrastructure ministers along with Fragiskatos, Young, and Yurek.

“It’s, again, an example of how senior levels of government, along with our municipal government, work together for the betterment of our broader community,” Holder said.

“I’ve always said municipalities are the front line and the bottom line. But those are words, unless they’re backed up by the kind of actions that you have announced today, and from us: thank you,” he said to Fragiskatos, Young, and Yurek.

The six projects selected for funding were all worthy of financial support, Fragiskatos said, adding each one brings people together.

“It’s one thing to invest in community infrastructure. It’s another thing to continue to prioritise maintaining that infrastructure, and all levels of government have to come together to ensure that’s a priority,” he said.

Read more: ‘When will it end?’: New data suggests COVID-19 could become endemic

Read next: Marit Stiles officially confirmed as Ontario NDP leader by majority vote

Story continues below advertisement

It’s not entirely clear when the planned projects are set to begin and when they’re expected to finish.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and concerns that more infectious variants could cause a third wave over the spring, will likely impact whatever timelines are established.

“We have seen construction over the past year that has carried on irrespective of this pandemic, and being respectful of it, to be able to try to balance out safety (and implementation),” he said.

“I think we’ll be balancing out, as we get more fully into our construction season, how we’re going to be able to balance out the timing of these projects with a number of projects that we have in place.”

Holder said he didn’t expect the work at Labatt Park would be finished by May 3 when it will mark 144 years since its first pitch.

McGonicle said the city will be focused on limiting potential impact on the community once work does begin at the six locations.

“Whenever we do rehabilitation work or renovation work on any of our facilities, the first priority for us is to mitigate impact on the users, and we will be committed to that same approach for these projects going forward,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau announces $518 million to support innovation and research in Canada'
Trudeau announces $518 million to support innovation and research in Canada

Earlier in the day, the province unveiled that London would be receiving $11.7 million dollars as part of a larger funding announcement to help cash-strapped municipalities address pandemic-related costs.

Story continues below advertisement

In all, roughly $500 million is being dished out to 444 municipalities, the province says.

The money can be used to pay for community services and ongoing capital projects, said Steve Clark, Ontario’s municipal affairs minister.

The province says the new funding comes in addition to nearly $1.4 billion received from the federal government and given to communities earlier in the pandemic.

Elsewhere, St. Thomas will receive $1.14 million while Middlesex County will receive $760,371, and Elgin County $544,266.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Sponsored content