Proposed new community/recreation centre invites input, ideas from local residents

It might take the better part of the next few years to complete the project, but if everything goes according to plan, residents living in the vicinity of Gull Lake will see a the construction of a new community/recreation centre.

It might take the better part of the next few years to complete the project, but if everything goes according to plan, residents living in the vicinity of Gull Lake will see a the construction of a new community/recreation centre.

With the formation of a five-member board including representation from Birch Bay, Poulsen’s Pasture, Sunnyside and Parkland Beach, a non-profit society known as the Westlake Community Society has been created and incorporated last November with the hopes of joining together, along with the input and assistance of others, to construct and operate the centre in Westlake Estates at the junction of Highway 771 and the Parkland Beach Road.

As for motivation behind the idea of the new hall, Society President Bruce Phillips pointed to steady and continued growth, along with future developments that are either currently underway or are in the works planned for the area.

“The population of the area is growing. There’s some 700 lots with people out there now in the sub-division area,” Phillips said. “The development in Westlake Estates when mature will be 147 lots there and another 55 at Parkland Beach, so the need coming forward will be fairly great. Our intention is to design a centre that will accommodate these people 10 years from now.”

Phillips said ideally, the society is looking at a facility capable of hosting large functions such as weddings with a capacity up to approximately 400 people and will also include space for smaller groups such as athletic and crafting clubs who will be able to store and lock up their equipment and supplies, as well as meeting rooms.

Additionally, as the centre will sit on an 11-acre parcel of land, there’ll be plenty of room for travelers and visitors to park campers and trailers on the site with easy access to the hall.

Of vital importance to the success of the centre will be input from the public and to facilitate those needs, four separate committees will be formed, each specializing in one particular area.

“The building and construction committee will design the building and how it’s going to be built. Is it going to be steel, is it going to be a block foundation – they’re going to design and figure out what we‘re going to use to build it,” Phillips said. “Once the design is together, we need to get the construction process in place, we need to get people that will get tenders out and bids in and look after that part of it as well as supervising construction as it’s being done.”

Another committee will focus on usage and design requirements for the proposed centre, which will work hand-in-hand with the kitchen design committee.

“We want to put a design committee together to plan out the kitchen. There are very stringent rules of how new kitchens have to be designed so we would like to get people involved that can design the kitchen along with the help of people who approve kitchens so that we can build it, figure out everything we’ll need in it and get a cost estimate that we’ll use with the use and design committee to get blueprints drawn up,” Phillips said.

The fourth and most important committee – at least in the initial stages, will be a grant and fundraising committee. Currently without a budget, Phillips used the Rimbey Drop-In Centre as a benchmark, which was constructed at a cost of approximately $1 million. Factoring in the increase in construction costs over the past few years, he feels a budget somewhere around $2 million should get the job done.

In addition to applying for provincial government grants, other fundraising activities will also be required and could include raffles and/or casino nights in Red Deer that have proved to be very lucrative to other non-profit and service groups and they’ve also been offered help from the County however that will not include and financial input.

“Ponoka County has agreed to cooperate with us fully and help us wherever they can,” Phillips said. “Their contribution will be zero dollars, but they’ve offered to help us where they can.”

As for the public’s role in the new centre, a meeting to be held this Saturday morning at Crestomere School to elect officials and directors and will provide any and all with the opportunity of becoming involved as the society wants suggestions and ideas from a large segment of the populations, not only those living in close proximity to the lake.

”We wish to include the rural area as well – anyone that wants to participate is more than welcome. It’s an invitation to anyone that has any input to offer or would like to take part. This is a community centre not specific to any one area,” said Phillips who has been associated with the Homeglen Hall for the past 30 years. “We want to incorporate them all together. That’s very important. Everybody has to pull together and we want to include as much rural development and input as we can.”

The meeting in Crestomere is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.