Fort St. James, one of the province's first established communities, doesn't have a community centre, which has forced the District to rely on its high school and elementary school gymnasiums for events. The new community centre will help the District meet an existing demand for a space that can be booked or rented out for everything from graduation and wedding receptions to cultural events, film screenings, banquets and conferences.
The community centre will be located in an existing 5,000-square-foot building that, up until recently, operated as a church facility and houses a non-operational cinema. Planned renovations include the addition of moveable walls for subdividing the space, modifications to the ground floor to make it wheelchair accessible, the replacement of existing heating ventilation and air conditioning, electrical upgrades and new office, meeting and storage space.
The community centre will be available to all members of the community, including those from the Nak'azdli Band, the Tl'azt'en Nation, the Yekooche First Nation and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, as well as visitors to the community for a variety of sporting and conference purposes.
The funding for the community centre was approved under the Trust's Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides funding to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and non-profit organizations in Northern Development's service area for projects that significantly strengthen the local economy via a major capital investment. Past Economic Diversification Infrastructure funding projects have included a fuel station for Barkerville and Wells, the Terrace Sportsplex and Conference Facility and the Prince George Airport's runway expansion.
In addition to the grant, the community centre project has also received funding support from the District of Fort St. James and the Province of British Columbia's Towns for Tomorrow and Community Recreation programs.
"Investments like this make our communities richer more rewarding places to live, and help retain and attract new residents to the region," said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust. "Northern Development is proud to support the development of a community centre in Fort St. James."
"The support of Northern Development Initiative Trust for our community centres comes at a perfect time as we solidify renovation plans for this project," said District of Fort St. James Mayor Rob MacDougall. "The efforts of the community centre committee over the years have helped to move this project forward, and the funding from the Trust is well-matched with that of a private donation from the Hoy family, contributions from the taxpayers of Fort St. James and support from the Province of B.C. through Minister Bill Bennett's office. We look forward to the economic development, tourism and recreation opportunities that will be made available through this space for our community."
Joel McKay Director, Communications Northern Development Initiative Trust Tel: 250.561.2525 Cell: 778.349.4027