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.

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