Town eyes cultural hub

After six years of discussion the Town of Cochrane is moving forward on its plans for a new community cultural hub.

“We are in the initial planning stages,” said Suzanne Gadia, senior manager for community services with the town. “We are going to scope out a site and see what is required and what is needed in the future.”

The conversation began in 2010 after the Arts and Cultural Foundation Cochrane (ACFC) conducted a feasibility study – the study identified more than 500 potential user groups and estimated the cost to build the facility at $22 million to $24 million.

“We have had many disappointments in the past six years and members, wanting to achieve the goal of a center, have become very discouraged with delays,” said Ruth Soroka, ACFC president.

“The hub would ideally be a place for live entertainment, gathering and learning. Our vision is to have an auditorium for the performing arts, rehearsal rooms, areas for visual artists to work and display their works, rooms for education in the arts as well as meeting and literary gatherings.”

The “community cultural hub” was added to council priorities and project list after the mayor and councillors were elected in Oct. 21, 2013. Now halfway through their term, council and administration will start meeting with stakeholders.

“(The project) was put on hold to figure out the next step and this council said we need to define what the next step is and council has given us direction to finalize the site,” Gadia explained.
Currently the town is eyeing a location for the future centre on Fifth Avenue by the Lions Club rodeo grounds, Gadia said.

In the 2010 feasibility study, the site on Fifth Avenue was proposed as an “ideal” potential site but it was before the existing buildings on the site had planned to move. Now with the construction of the aquatic and curling centre by Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sport Centre, the existing pool and curling buildings will be able to be demolished once the new centre is complete.

“We want to create a space that is busy all the time, something that is a core for the community,” Gadia said.

Once the town can secure the site, administration will begin meeting with community stakeholders. There are six or seven initial stakeholders the town has already been in discussion with, Gadia said.
After administration meets with stakeholder, the town will be able to identify any “gaps” in the plan and move forward.

“ACFC would like to move this process forward as soon possible. We have been warned by the Town of Cochrane that this will be a slow process; and it should be, so we can get it right for this community,” Soroka said.

“We would like to make this hub a place that is well used and one to be proud of.”
Administration is hopeful it will have a proposal for the community cultural hub project to present to mayor and council by fall.

Read the Cochrane Eagle article here.

Artisans’ market coming to Cochrane

Calling all artisans.

The Arts & Cultural Foundation of Cochrane will be hosting its inaugural Artisans’ Market starting the first weekend in June.

“This community has a lot of artists and they need an outlet,” said Romy Jansen, the foundation’s treasurer.

The Artisans’ Market will run throughout the summer, every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., as to not interfere with the annual Farmers’ Market that runs on Saturdays throughout the summer.

The main difference with the Artisans’ Market is the focus will be directed more toward performing arts while also welcoming other artisans from Cochrane and surrounding area communities to display their crafts.

Organizers are inviting all performing artists of all skill levels to inquire about the upcoming market, encouraging school bands, buskers, church groups, individual performers or bands to take the stage.

The current summer Farmers’ Market typically has waiting lists from the time the market opens and the organizers wanted to help artisans in the area by giving them another opportunity on the weekend, while also attracting residents and guests to historical downtown.

“We want to revitalize downtown again, promote tourism and want to make Cochrane a destination stop,” explained Katheryn Sutton, media co-ordinator for Arts Cochrane.

The market will be held in the historical downtown square across from the MacKay’s ice cream store on First Street W., with the hope to drive as much traffic to historical downtown as possible.

“We’ve approached the downtown merchants and they are excited about the market,” Sutton said.

Since the soft announcement of the market has been made, Ruth Soroka, president of Arts Cochrane, said she has already received several emails inquiring about renting a space.

“We are working hard to get everything ready and we are very optimistic,” Soroka said. “We want to liven downtown and give artisans a chance to show their work.”

There will be a stage available for performing artists and the space will be able to accommodate approximately 12 artisans per market.

Artisans wanting to participate in the market must be a member of the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Cochrane, a $25 membership fee for the year, and $15 table rental fee per market.

There will be no admission for those wanting to attend.

Family-friendly activities are currently being planned to encourage everyone of all ages to come out. While there will be no food or beverages offered at the market, organizers want to encourage attendees to explore what historical downtown has to offer.

The event will be hosted entirely by volunteers and organizers said they are excited and hopeful to see people from the community support the new market.

For more information email

read the Cochrane Eagle article here.

Cochrane Music Festival for Youth Fills the Gap

A music festival will be happening Sunday, May 1, and offers youth an opportunity to perform in front of adjudicators.

The afternoon festival will allow children to perform for positive feedback filling the gap between now and the Cochrane Rotary Youth Talent Festival which has been moved to November from May.

Shelley Steele-Gittel, music teacher who runs a variety of programs, says May is a good time of year for kids to perform.

“A lot of kids are preparing for festivals, recitals, and things like that; and you are winding down the year. They look forward to an ending performance where they get feedback and also get rewarded for their hard work.”

Gittel thought that rather than waiting until November, an interim festival would tide the youth over. Performers will receive feedback and a reward for their performance.

“We will have adjudicators, we will keep it super positive, and very to the point, and fairly quick. We will give them some positives, some things they can work on; if they try their best they will get a reward for that: a medal.”

The festival may be a good way to give those performing added incentive to practice in preparation for the November Rotary Festival.

“The fact that they will have that positive adjudication, then they can look at next steps, and what is going to happen after that,” says Gittel.

Gittel shares that both Glee Clubs, members of Rock Band, and about 15 soloists will be performing on May 1. Gittel adds that other teachers are able to contact her as well if they have interested students.

“They can give me a call at 403-467-8375 or shoot me an email through but everyone is welcome. We will make sure that they all get rewarded and have a quality adjudication at the same time.”

The performance will be held Sunday May 1, at Seniors on the Bow auditorium in the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre from 1- 3 pm, and the festival is open to the public.

Read the Discover Airdrie article here.

Park celebrates our connection to Bow River

The crowd may have been a touch small for the grand opening of the Riverfront Park, Aug. 29, yet that doesn’t reflect the popularity of the Bow River green space. Chances are more people were utilizing the park’s amenities than attending the ceremony.

With most of the project finished on time and within its $3 million budget, Suzanne Gaida, Cochrane’s senior manager of community services , said she is excited to see folks enjoying the park, which has been in the works since 2012.

“I’m always happy to see people come out,” said Gaida. “Even though it was windy, the weather held and it wasn’t as smoky so I think people just wanted to get outside.”

The ceremonies opened with music from the Cochrane Pipe Band as people gathered around a stage decorated with branches from the park’s construction and artwork created by children from summer art camp.

Jack Tennant, recipient of the 2015 Order of Cochrane, was the master of ceremonies and opened with a speech about the connection between nature and humanity represented in the park.

“It is a symbol of human connectivity, peace and a place to pay homage to mother nature,” said Tennant.

To represent the themes of connectivity to nature, Irene Twoyoungmen from Morley delivered a Stoney traditional prayer to the Eagles to bless the park and give guidance to all the people who use it.

The prayer was followed with a talk from Walter McDonald White Bear, a native cultural ambassador and musician, about the medicine wheel, or the circle of life, which is a cosmic blueprint representing all of creation, the four nations of humanity and Mother Nature.

“To us, Mother Earth is a living, breathing human being,” said McDonald White Bear. “To us, she is alive.

Cam Westead, NDP MLA for Banff-Cochrane, spoke of the government’s election promise to protect the land, air and water.

“I’m incredibly proud to be here today to celebrate a local project that’s doing just that,” said Westhead.

The theme of nature’s university has been connected with Chief Walking Buffalo who was an emissary for peace, forgiveness and human understanding, said Westhead.

“This new park perfectly exemplifies this idea,” said Westhead. “By taking a few minutes to unplug and reconnect with nature, we are allowing ourselves an opportunity to grow and reflect.”

Mayor Ivan Brooker spoke of the original park design in 2012 and the flood of 2013, which caused a delay in building but changed the design that benefited the longevity of the park.

The town was able to see how the flood impacted the area and constructed a park better equipped to deal with a flood.

“Now we have a park that’s not just hugely beneficial to our residents and out visitor, but as well it will withstand Mother Nature if those disasters ever come again,” said Brooker.

Other members of town council in attendance were Morgan Nagel and Mary Lou Davis.

Bill McLean, the son of Chief Walking Buffalo, made an appearance at the event to discuss the relation with his father and Cochrane.

He recalls making the trip to the town on horseback with his father for the first time when he was a boy of six or seven years old.

“After that, I’ve been coming to Cochrane every year,” said McLean. “I’ve always felt that Cochrane has been a hometown as well.”

The events continued on with traditional native dancers from Morley, pond discoveries and guided nature walks.

With a few minor elements like signs and structures like the Griffin Rd. underpass and the Wetland Walks, which was held up by nesting birds and heavy weather, the park is very near completion.

“They didn’t want to damage stuff more than they needed to,” said Gaida. “Hopefully within the next couple weeks [the Wetland Walks] will be able to get finished.”

The drive for the creation of Riverfront Park originated with the council of Mayor Truper McBride. It was part of his 2010 election platform and it was his council that approved the project and originally allocated $2 million in funding in December 2012.

He believed in the need to showcase Cochrane’s significant connection the Bow River and to allow for continued accessibility by public.

In April 2012, he wrote, “By planning ahead, council will be able to create natural protected areas within new river front park space in conjunction with opportunities for active recreation. These spaces will provide habitat and green open areas as well as numerous social, economic and environmental goods and services for the people of Cochrane.”

Read the Cochrane Times article here.

Cochrane has Arts

There’s no doubt ‘Cochrane has Arts’ and the Cochrane Arts Guide demonstrates just how much is available in the area.

The newly released Cochrane Arts Guide of the Arts and Culture Foundation Cochrane (ACFC) offers an extensive directory of art pursuits of any nature in the Cochrane area and will help to direct you to their locales.

The 10-panel guide, designed courtesy of Sue Penry, includes an extensive listing of artists, businesses, clubs plus points of interests and events. There’s also a map pinpointing some of their locations. Like the ACFC itself, the guide is all inclusive of visual and performing arts and confirms their mission to enhance the appreciation and knowledge of the arts in the community.

ACFC president Colleen McCrea said 10,000 copies were printed and they anticipate it will have a two-year shelf life. They hope to expand upon it in the next edition, possible into a book.

ACFC touched based with many people in the arts community while doing footwork for the guide and it tied in well with a membership drive. There are now more than 70 members in ACFC. Memberships are available for businesses, organizations/clubs, individuals, families and youth (under 18 years old). Youth memberships are free to help encourage their involvement in the arts.

The guide is just one of the latest pursuits of the reinvigorated organization and much of it will unfold in the year future.

But McCrea did provide one hint. “Watch for Cochrane Has Arts on July 1.”

Look for the guide in countertop displays in local shops, banks and restaurants and businesses and businesses.

More information on the ACFC can be found at and on their Facebook page Arts and Culture Foundation of Cochrane.

Chance to win tickets to

Canada Day Family Concert

You have a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Canada Day Family Concert by showing where you picked up your copy of the Cochrane Arts Guide.

Entering is simple… and fun.

Take a photograph of where you picked up your copy of the guide and post it on the Facebook page Arts and Culture Foundation of Cochrane and you’ll automatically be entered.

“You can take a ‘selfie’ or even just a photo of the guide on a store counter, whatever you wish,” explained ACFC president Colleen McCrae.

Check out the organization’s Facebook page for updates.

Read the Cochrane Times article here.

Culture Days proclaimed

Council has proclaimed Sept. 25 to 27 Cochrane has ARTS Culture Days, when the Arts and Culture Foundation of Cochrane (ACFC) is planning to celebrate all facets of the arts practices in town.

Although their plans are currently tentative, ACFC is aiming to start the weekend with a networking event for those involved in the arts Friday evening with most of the events taking place on Saturday. Instead of a large tent, ACFC is trying to get art clubs and businesses like 4Cats and local dance studios to provide demonstrations on Sept. 26 plus a Do You Think You Have Talent show at the Cochrane Ranche stage.

The Nakoda-Cochrane Pickin’ Party is expected to return to provide musical entertainment along with other local musicians and there will be a Sunday jam session at the Bullhorn Saloon. The Cochrane Movie House will be taking part as well and people will have a chance to do some mural painting to be a part of the Canada 150 Mosaic Mural being done by communities across Canada in preparation of the nation’s 150th anniversary, which will also have a workshop during this year’s Canada Day celebrations on Jul. 1.

In addition to supplying a map of where everything is taking place, ACFC is encouraging those who take part to flag their events outside their locations so that passersby will see that something is going on and step inside.

Read the Cochrane Times article here.

Cochrane Alberta Culture Days

Glen Boles

Local artist and author Glen Boles (Cochrane Eagle)

The Town of Cochrane celebrated the community’s wealth of talent and creativity with the Cochrane Alberta Culture Days Festival 2014 presented by the Arts & Culture Foundation Cochrane.

The weekend of September 26-28 was proclaimed the Fifth Annual Cochrane Alberta Culture Days Festival. With everything from local artisans and classic cars to musicians and dancers, residents enjoyed a number of family events showcasing the unique culture of Cochrane.

Cochrane is proud to be part of the some 1,450 Alberta Culture Days events in communities across the province.

Read the full story by Allison Drinnan at the Cochrane Eagle.

Doors Open Cochrane

Studio West

Humane Society

Studio West Bronze Foundry and the Cochrane Humane Society opening their doors to the public for a behind-the-scenes look.



For two days only, the public is granted access—free of charge—to municipal government and local business sites for exclusive tours, events and insider information sessions that allow them to get to know Cochrane in a way that has never been possible before.

Doors Open organizer Laurie Drukier said the event is a great way for the community to interact with local businesses.

Get a glimpse of how Cochrane’s water supply is drawn from Bow River and how state of the art technology is used to treat it. Get your picture taken in Council Chambers. Find out what happens inside the Eco Centre after you drop off your recyclables.

Businesses, cultural and faith groups and tourist attractions can also show off what they do: host a behind the scenes look at your building or operation!

Doors Open Cochrane takes place in conjunction with Alberta Culture Days when Cochrane streets are filled with locals and visitors enjoying art displays, festivals and other outdoor activities.


Cochrane Ranche Days


Cochrane Ranche Days is a step back into the slower and more traditional way of life (Ryan McLeod – Cochrane Eagle)

Ranche Days is an annual event in honour of the Ranche that was established in 1881 by Senator Matthew Henry Cochrane.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site and the unveiling of the Men of Vision statue, which sits on the site.

Celebrating Cochrane’s rich Western Heritage, the event features the Cochrane Farmers’ Market longest market day of the year, free entertainment, wagon rides, art displays, family games, and heritage activities.

Recreation Manager Tracy Smyth says the celebration honours the values of the pioneering and ranching community and their commitment to preserve the Ranche Historic Site for future generations.

Read the full story by Allison Drinnan at the Cochrane Eagle.