The long-planned new building at Alex Fraser Park is almost ready for its debut.
With electricity now running through the walls, park director Robin Hay said the multipurpose building is almost ready for a grand opening – they just need the finishing touches and an occupancy permit.
“You could host a wedding here,” he said.
Versatility was the goal when planning the building. It features offices, a classroom, a show floor, washing stations and an overhead lounge. There will also be outdoor storage for user groups at Alex Fraser Park.
“We wanted a multi-use ag-event centre,” Hay said. “One of the key words is event. Our first priority is to have anything that’s related to agriculture to be facilitated in this complex. We don’t have a focal point in the community for ag-events.”
The building is also planned to act as livestock evacuation area if there is an emergency in the area similar to the 2017 wildfires. That emergency saw PetSafe running evacuation operations out of tiny trailers and trucks.
“They would take this over, so they’ve got a place to operate from,” Hay said. “We thought we could do something a little bit better.”
Hay said the performing surface inside is not as deep as other surfaces in the park, perfect for dressage and pony cart racing.
The initial estimate for the building was under $600,000, but that has doubled over the course of the project.
“The original concept was just going to be basically a shell with a little bit of storage space,” Hay said. “It started to morph into something a lot larger as different groups in the community… started to see the capacity. We might as well do it right and get something we could use, because we’re not going to get a chance to do it a second time.”
He added $650,000 in funding was provided by the rural dividend fund, around $200,000 from the northern development initiative trust, and the city chipped in most of the rest from a surplus fund and gas tax.
The upstairs lounge is similar to an overhead curling lounge, with the ability to host licensed events.
“We wanted the same type of concept (as a curling club), with the focus being on anything related to agriculture, but at the same time be flexible,” Hay said. “We wanted to bring a focus point back into the community for agriculture.”
Hay said the building compliments other facilities at Alex Fraser Park.
“This would be ideal to hold the rodeo dance in,” he said. “Rather than trying to convert the riding arena into a dance hall. They have to do a lot of work, and people have to come afterwards to do a lot of work to undo the work we already did.”
The grand opening is planned for September or October, depending on COVID-19 regulations.
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