Local politicians and community members got together at the site of the condemned Heidelberg community centre to celebrate taking a big step forward in their fundraising goals.
After years of applications, the Heidelberg Recreation Association got comfirmation they would be receiving $150,000 towards their $300,000 fundraising goal from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris, on hand at the community announcement and celebration Saturday, said Heidelberg is one step closer to making their long-term goal of a community hub a reality.
“These are communities that have families that are looking for things to do. They are almost more important when you have a community like Heidelberg that doesn’t have the facilities like some other centres have,” he said. “This means even more to them to make this significant kind of investment to get this project off the ground.”
Rec. association member Bev Baechler says the grant money is a huge step for the group, but there is still plenty of work to do.
“It means that after three years of wishing and hoping and trying, we are going to be able to build our building now,” she said, adding that a non-denominational centre is just what Heidelberg residents need. “When we lost the school in 1990, we didn’t have a hub anymore,” she said of the closure of Heidelberg Public School. “We do have churches, but people who aren’t affiliated with the church are kind of hesitant to drop in for things like that. This will bring us back to the community. We have great functions. We used to have family fun day every September to bring the community back together after holidays. We can’t hold it now because the building is condemned. We don’t even have washrooms. This will get us back into doing our events and bring the community back together.”
The building currently sitting on the site on Lobsinger Line in the Woolwich Township side of town has been deemed dangerous, and the doors were locked. A few raccoons have moved in and made their own changes to the structure, and Baechler says they can’t wait to tear it down, but first, more fundraising needs to happen.
“Right now, we still have to get some funds set aside for this. It was originally put in the budget two years ago, but we have been talking for several years, with a $300,000 price tag. Now, the price has gone up in the years since we got the quotes,” she said. “We are going to do another blitz, hopefully get some more funds in, and asking the people to help us out.”
The association is looking around to different organizations for a hand with raising money, and with Heidelberg straddling the line between Woolwich and Wellesley townships, they reached out to Wellesley council for help. However, councillors voted against their request last week. Baechler says she understands, but would have liked to see some support.
“We are disappointed, but not angry,” she said. “We do realize that dollars are short nowadays, and they didn’t want to increase taxes, and we really appreciate that, but we are disappointed.”
Harris echoed Baechler’s comments.
“I never like to intrude on council decisions, but I think it would have been nice to have them support it in some small way. Maybe they will have a relook at that, especially now that we are close to the end of our target. We will see what the community says to Wellesley Township themselves, and go from there,” he said. “I get that all communities are stretched for asks and financial means. You look at the small tax base they have to raise the money, I get it. There are so many requests coming all the time, but obviously Wellesley residents will share in this facility, but I get that it is in Woolwich too. It is one of those things.”
The Trillium Foundation grant brings the association’s grand total to $210,000 with a goal of $300,000.
To get more information, or to donate to the cause, email the association at firstname.lastname@example.org.