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Ground breaks in Hamilton for Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre

Dena Fehir
Ground breaks in Hamilton for Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre

The first shovel went into the ground in December to begin construction of the Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre (BMRC) in Hamilton, Ont.

The facility is in honour of the late Ward 3 councillor who served the city for 22 years and passed away in January 2014.

The 54,000-square-foot BMRC will be part of the South Stadium Precinct of Tim Hortons Field, home of the Hamilton Tiger Cats and a soccer venue for the 2015 Pan American Games.

"We are proud to have the family and friends of Mr. Bernie Morelli here with us to mark the construction phase of his lifelong legacy of service," said current Ward 3 councillor Matthew Green at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The building will feature dance studios, a walking track, a gymnasium and a leisure pool as well as open public community rooms for local residents, including seniors. The BMRC will also connect the existing Jimmy Thompson Pool building through a two-storey public lobby space that spans the south side of the BMRC building to incorporate barrier-free accessibility.

The South Stadium Precinct incorporates three buildings, the existing Jimmy Thompson Pool, the new Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre and the new North Secondary School, said Robyn Ellis, City of Hamilton manager of strategic planning, capital and compliance, with public works.

"Together with the new stadium at Tim Hortons Field, the arrangement of the three buildings will form an outdoor courtyard creating a new public open space and civic destination. This outdoor courtyard will also connect visually to the stadium, offering a spectacular view," Ellis said.

The publicly funded BMRC’s total construction cost is $20.7 million. Cost per square foot is $377. Cost of the leisure pool (not including change rooms) is approximately $1.85 million. That cost per square foot is $433.

Maintenance for the facility has been allocated through the City of Hamilton’s operating budget, which will be approved in 2018, when the facility opens. Operating budgets will not only cover maintenance, but also utilities, staffing costs and benefits and is partially offset by program revenues.

Main uses for the rooms within the BMRC will be to provide youth, adult and seniors programming, primarily fitness and aquatic programs. The city will also make the gym, meeting and fitness rooms and pool available for rent to the public.

Brampton–based Aquicon Construction was awarded the contract to do the construction, with 40 workers currently on site.

Work in the winter of 2017 includes the continuation of foundation pouring and erecting the structural steel. Target completion of the BMRC is September 2018 for occupancy.

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