Construction on Sault College's new $1.8-million waterfront and tennis centre is expected to start this fall after the local committee of adjustment approved needed variances from the city's zoning bylaw last week.
Architect David Ellis said existing structures on the McPhail Ave. property were dangerously dilapidated and were demolished over the summer.
Because the old structures made direct contact with the St. Marys River, Fisheries and Oceans Canada insisted the demolition work be done in just four weeks from mid-July to mid-August, Ellis told the committee.
"The new building will not physically touch the water," Ellis said. "We're actually building it on piles and cantilevering it out over the water so we don't touch the water at all."
Failing to start construction this fall could place project funding in jeopardy, Ellis said.
The new 5,000-square-foot building will consist of a boat-launching and storage/repair facility as well as a multi-purpose building with a kitchen and a 210-degree view of the waterfront.
In addition to tennis, sailing, canoeing and kayaking, the facility will be used by Sault College's hospitality and outdoors programs.
"We have the exact same gross floor area as the building that was demolished," Ellis told the committee.
"Unfortunately, the building that was demolished had a footprint that was slightly smaller because it was two stories. Nowadays we have accessibility issues. We don't want a two-storey building. We want one storey."
"We're going to have the same facilities inside as we had before. There's no real change of use."
Ellis rotated the building about 15 degrees to make it exactly parallel to the tennis courts that cover half the waterfront property.
The new Sault College facility will be the first net-zero building in Sault Ste. Marie, if not in Northern Ontario, Ellis said.
"The building itself will generate enough energy that it requires zero input of energy. Essentially electrical bill zero, heating bill zero."
"We're going to be doing that by using a brand-new air heat exchange system and solar arrays on the roof."
The building will be the third constructed on the former Rotary YMCA Tennis & Aquatic Club site, which has served the Sault for more than 100 years.