Future of Civic Centre up for discussion

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The Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.

After a lengthy study, Chatham-Kent council is set to consider its options relating to the deteriorating Chatham-Kent Civic Centre on Monday evening.

Administration is recommending that council look at two proposals under the Imagine Chatham-Kent project out of five that were originally put forward.

The recommended proposals include renovating the current King Street building, while the other proposes buying a portion of the Downtown Chatham Centre mall and relocating C-K headquarters to the old Sears building.

Staff recommends that council not proceed with three other options that were on the table. These include a do-nothing approach, meaning the civic centre would be fixed on as-needed basis; building a new civic centre at a new location; or revamping the civic centre, including a library expansion and a cultural centre update.

None of the options come cheap. According to a staff report, fixing up the current civic centre comes with an estimated price tag of $37 million, while the second option for consideration would cost an estimated $53 million. However, some of the cost would be recouped through the sale of the civic centre and library buildings, valued at more than $9 million.

The idea of moving municipal services to the downtown mall was conceived in the spring of 2022, when a group of local investors bought the Downtown Chatham Centre. In June 2022, council directed administration to prepare a report regarding options for relocation or redevelopment of municipal assets to the DCC property.

An online survey on the matter was conducted from Aug. 15 to Sept. 22 of this year, to which 1,146 responses were received. Two public consultation meetings were also held earlier this year with around 80 people attending in total.

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