An open house regarding the potential building of an indoor activity centre in Bowden will be held on March 10 between 5 and 8:30 p.m. at the Friendship Centre.
The results of an inquiry by Paul Conrad & Associates, a community development firm contracted by the Town of Bowden to look at how the project might look, were presented at the Bowden town council meeting last week.
Conrad told councillors that consultations with households in the community began in May. Nine sites were looked at throughout the community and a draft proposal came forward in November. Council then sent it back to the Community Centre Steering Committee that is looking at the process.
In making the presentation to council, two main sites were identified as possibilities: the existing Bowden Lions Hall site, and a site adjacent to the Bowden Igloo Arena. In the Lions Hall plans, a two-storey building is proposed, with enough room for a meeting room, a craft room as well as basketball and volleyball courts. About 60 parking stalls exist at the Lions Hall now, and it was suggested that more land would need to be acquired by the town for additional parking spaces.
In the second proposal, to be built between the Igloo Arena and adjacent playground, the site would be freestanding from the arena but built in such a way that it could be connected indoors to the Igloo in the future. While 80 parking stalls exist at the arena currently, more parking could be made available at the north end of the arena and around the backside of the arena and the museum, it was suggested.
ìThis would allow a number of opportunities that wouldn't be available at the Lions site,î Marty Schmidt, an associate with Paul Conrad & Associates said, noting that the second site would consolidate all sporting and cultural activities in one site.
The Lions centre proposal would hold a capacity of 350 to 400 people, while the Igloo proposal would hold about 380 to 450 people. Each of the facilities would be about 1,080 to 1,260 square metres (12,000 to 14,000 square feet). Each of the facilities includes enough space to house a new community library, as it's felt the current one doesn't meet the community's needs.
Many councillors wondered about the kitchen area of the proposals. The size of the kitchen is often determined by current community use of a facility plus projected growth, the consultants said. Some kitchens are built in stages, they noted, as the funds allow.
ìThe kitchen is always a critical, critical element of a community hall,î Schmidt said.
In gathering feedback from the community prior to making the presentation, the firm did a telephone survey of community residents, plus an eight-page questionnaire, getting feedback from 80 per cent of the community's volunteer organizations.
Conrad also outlined several recommendations that council should proceed with, including working with community groups to develop a sense of ownership in the facility.
In an interview, Conrad said his firm looked at all the facilities around Bowden to validate the priorities of town residents.
ìWe did some serious investigations on community infrastructure and we looked at what's realistic in terms of where these facilities can be sited. We are essentially done all of our investigations, research and writing. We are now in the very final stages of producing a strategy for council adoption and this is the public's opportunity to come out and look at what we've done,î he explained.
Mayor Robb Stuart said the issue of a new recreational facility has been an ongoing one for many years. The Bowden Lions Hall was built during the Second World War and is past its useful lifespan.
ìIt's a worthwhile project. I think they're right there in the two potential sites we should develop,î he said.
A preliminary cost estimate on the facility was pegged at between $2.7 and $3.3 million, but that could change when the final design is decided upon.