Bonteheuwel residents can look forward to a revamped civic centre next month as its ceilings, floors, toilets and lighting are being replaced along with general maintenance to the building.
Ward councillor Angus McKenzie says the centre, in Kiaat Avenue, was overdue for an upgrade, and the work should be done by the end of the month.
“The building was in a bad condition and residents deserved an upgrade. The civic centre is used by residents daily – it is a community building. Events which were usually held at the centre have stopped while others have moved to a different venue but it is an inconvenience that people understand. Residents are happy to see the upgrades being done,” he said.
Informal trading would also resume outside the centre after July when phase three of the Bonteheuwel CBD upgrade kicked in, he said.
Phase three includes the building of an open-air amphitheatre, a sports facility and a new informal trading area.
Phase one and two last year saw the entire CBD being fenced in, creating a safer feel for shoppers, pensioners in particular (“Bonteheuwel CBD upgrade well under way,” Athlone News, April 14, 2021); the hiring of 25 “ambassadors” to, among other things, control CBD access, help elderly shoppers and provide information; the construction of new toilet facilities; and the renovation of a City-owned building that is leased to various businesses.
The CBD upgrade has employed over 100 Bonteheuwel residents so far, according to Mr McKenzie. He said phase three’s tender applications had closed two weeks ago and would be awarded in the next two weeks.
The Community of Bonteheuwel Association’s chairman, Abie Clayton, said that while not everyone knew about the civic centre’s renovation, he was glad maintenance was being done.
People could now start making money by hosting events at the centre or selling goods at the informal traders’ market, he said, adding that many families had been stripped of their income by the pandemic and were desperate for such opportunities.
“Residents are looking for an opportunity to make money and to do things for themselves so perhaps they can use the centre once it is done.”
However, chairman of the Bonteheuwel informal Traders, Trevor Marman, said traders would only benefit from setting up outside the civic centre if the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) once again used the venue to pay out grants.
Sassa had stopped its services at the civic centre in 2016 after continuous theft, said Mr McKenzie.
Having a Sassa pay point at the civic centre had meant brisk business for traders, but now people travelled to Gatesville and Vangate Mall to collect their grants as they were afraid of being robbed at other Sassa pay points in Bonteheuwel, Mr Marman said.
“I’ve been to the civic centre and it looks much neater and cleaner. Hopefully this will be an attraction for Sassa to come back,” he said.