By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Construction of the $11 million Morinville Community Cultural Centre is on track for a June 11 official opening, but will be ready for a couple of preliminary events set for mid- to late-May. Morinville councillors and administration had the opportunity Wednesday afternoon to tour the facility to see that progress.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf after seeing the inside of the approximately 500-seat auditorium. “I think it’s going to be a big step for Morinville. This is going to be the place where people will want to come. As much as some people think it’s a white elephant, they’re in for a surprise.”
The deputy mayor said he was pleased with the progress PCL, the company contracted to build the facility, has made thus far. He is confident the facility will be ready when it is supposed to be.
Krauskopf is not alone in his admiration of the facility of the progress made in building the same. The woman who has been given the role of managing the facility when it opens is also pleased with how far the centre has come since the sod was turned last summer.
“It’s incredible. Every time we come, there are more and more things finished and it looks closer to move in date,” said Community Cultural Centre Manager Laurie Stalker. “It’s very, very exciting.”
Stalker said she was not surprised with the progress PCL has made on the project, but was surprised with the versatility of space the centre will have available. “It’s hard to believe it was less than a year ago that we broke ground here,” she said, noting design work on the project preceded that by a considerable time period.
Although the Community Cultural Centre officially opens June 11, The Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce will be holding an after-hours business gathering at the new facility May 19, an event to be followed by Morinville’s Volunteer Appreciation Night May 27. Additionally, the St. Jean Baptiste Festival will be utilizing the new centre this year. The centre will play host to four big name acts: East Coast comedian Jimmy Flynn, country singer Joe Hicks, Doug and the Slugs and Kenny Shields and Streetheart.
Stalker said the centre is almost completely booked through the summer of 2011 for weddings and that they have wedding bookings as far ahead as the summer of 2012.
“People are anxious to be married here and we do have a number of conferences and meetings, that sort of thing,” she said. “I never dreamt we’d have weddings booked in the first weekend. The first wedding is just after the grand opening.”
But while the centre will play host to a variety of entertainment over the summer from big name music acts to that unforgettable wedding toast from someone’s inebriated uncle, a full artistic season is planned with 10 acts coming to town between September and June of 2012.
“We’re trying to book a variety so we can come to learn what people want to see in Morinville, want to come to listen to,” Stalker said. “It’s going to be home entertainment at its best.”
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It would appear that there seems to be some commercial interest with the new Centre about to open, but I have yet to see anything truly culturally mentioned outside of St.Jean Baptist Day.
A stipulation of the Appeals Hearing in May 2010 is “that a sound assessment be completed concerning the development by a qualified expert with final sound mitigation methods to be approved by Town of Morinville Council at a regular or special Council meeting open to the public prior to the occupancy permit being issued.”
The above stipulation doesn’t take into consideration that the qualified experts of Acoustical Consultants Inc.(ACI) already completed an assessment for the Architect of the building stating noise is of concern. While the Appeal Board stated noise will negatively affect the quality of life of nearby residences.
So all this leaves me wondering what kind of process will take place if their “expert” comes back stating it will be months and thousands of dollars of upgrades to bring noise levels to an acceptable standard.
Considering the ambitious programming being booked, I’m really not holding my breath to see if the entire council will do the right thing. Based on the study already conducted by an accredited company (ACI) , there will be noise disturbances, there will be phone calls to the police. It is really a shame, especially to those who only want to celebrate their wedding receptions, when this Town is setting them up for conflict and failure.