BOWDEN – The town has received its second big boost in just over a month.
First, it was the announcement last month that the massive $50-million Paterson grain terminal project will be built this spring. Now, the long-awaited provincial government grant for the new community hall has been approved.
Last week, officials for the Bowden Cultural Enhancement Society received word that Alberta Culture and Tourism has approved a $750,000 matching grant from its Community Facility Enhancement Program.
The other $750,000 was primarily acquired from two $300,000 grants from Red Deer County plus fundraising and private cash donations.
“The community hall will bring back the heart to the community,” said Julie Brewster, society secretary, who added the budget for the new hall, to be located on 3.2 acres of land at the north end of Bowden along Highway 2A (27 Avenue) and 22 Street, is $1.7 million. “We still have some fundraising to do and we will continue to fundraise.”
However, Mabel Hamilton, the society’s president, said tenders for construction would be sent out immediately, now that the $750,000 provincial grant has been secured.
“The community spirit, both rural and in the town, that have come together to make this happen has been wonderful,” said Hamilton. “What a great industry it will be for Bowden because obviously we are going to be renting this out.
“It is really important that we have a good program to advertise our facility, and that is why we are looking to have a top-notch 350-people sit- down facility with a full commercial kitchen that will attract others.”
Hamilton added there will also be a smaller meeting room citizens and local groups can rent.
“I think the other thing that is going to happen now is that we had so many people sitting on the fence thinking this would never happen, and now that we got this money and we can move forward, I think the enthusiasm is going to ratchet it up,” said Hamilton.
To make this community dream come true, the society launched a million-dollar “Raise the Roof” fundraising drive last year for its long-awaited new community hall, a project that has been in the minds of town and rural residents for over a decade.
The new 10,750-square-foot facility will replace the antiquated seven-decade-old Bowden Lions Hall along Main Street, an ancient military building moved piece by piece in 1948 from the area’s Elementary Flying Training School that was administered under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) during the Second World War.
The new modern hall is hoped to be a place of honour for milestone events such as graduations, weddings and funerals. Hamilton said previously the facility would also be a valuable venue to host trade shows, dinner theatres, a farmers market and seasonal events.
She said the intent is to expand the usage to include more and more community groups, such as FCSS, preschool, 4-H, minor hockey and dance clubs. Hamilton said the new structure could also be used as a disaster or emergency service building.
“The community hall will bring back the heart to the community.”Julie Brewster, secretary for the Bowden Cultural Enhancement Society