Wickham’s community hub has been more than a decade in the planning but the wait was finally over when the long-awaited facility opened its doors on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of community members flocked to the new centre for a first look and to see the building officially opened with a ceremonial plaque and a burst of pyrotechnics.
The $16.35 million Wickham Community Hub includes a library, 50-place early learning centre, youth drop-in centre, skate park, offices, multi-purpose community rooms, water playground and refurbished squash centre and community hall.
It was funded through Rio Tinto ($8 million), the City of Karratha ($6.85 million) and Lotterywest ($1.5 million).
Hub reference group chairman and Wickham community chaplain Richard Goscombe said the building had something to offer people of every age and would be well-utilised by the community.
“The reality is, this is not a bonus extra facility that Wickham has received, these are all replacement facilities ... but they are now purpose-built facilities and that is the big difference,” he said.
“To see the place buzzing with people today is extremely encouraging and exciting, and it’s a foretaste of what’s to come.”
City Mayor Peter Long said the hub would breathe new life into the town, enhancing its liveability.
“This contemporary, functional facility is a game-changer for the Wickham community and provides a new home for enhanced community services and programs while activating the town centre,” he said.
“Local businesses have also benefited from construction of the facility, with 33 local Pilbara suppliers and contractors engaged during the build, representing 57 per cent of all suppliers and sub-contractors employed by project builder CWD Builders Developers.”
Rio Tinto managing director of supply chain and services Ivan Vella said the facility would “transform” central Wickham by building on the infrastructure that the town already had.
“This exciting new precinct is a great example of what local government, industry and the community can achieve together,” he said.
Planning for the Wickham Community Hub started in 2004, but the project ran into roadblocks including community disagreement on what services should be part of the facility and funding shortfalls.
Plans advanced following the formation of the City of Karratha and Rio Tinto community partnership and hub reference group.
The hub will be managed by the City of Karratha.