Elkford Community Convention Centre grand opening June 22, 2012Posted by admin in : News , trackback
Thursday June 21 was an emotional day for Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher. This was the long awaited grand opening of the Elkford Community Convention Centre.
The event began with a lunch for dignitaries in a bright room filled with natural light provided by tall windows. This space opens into one large area for bigger functions but can be divided to provide two meeting rooms.
After lunch everyone congregated outside to join the large crowd gathered to witness the ribbon cutting.
Everyone then gathered inside the main hall to listen to speeches. Director of Leisure Services Gerrity Stanley was master of ceremonies saying “Opportunities are endless with this building”.
She then went on to introduce Mayor McKerracher saying he was on his third term as mayor and stating that he came to Elkford in 1972 and was the first municipal employee for Fording going on to work at the mine until retirement.
McKerracher said he was the first employee for Elkford before it became a district. Of the building he said “I have been through it many times and each time I am still in awe. He recalled that this vision began in 2003 when he and then Councillors Debbie Tomich and Ramona Turcott were trying to convince council to build a centre. In 2004 they thought to purchase the unsightly school building and in 2006 he enlisted the help of Bill Bennett. He negotiated with the school to purchase the building finally getting it for 175 thousand dollars. Luckily for the district the school had been insured when it burned down to what is believed to have been faulty wiring. McKerracher said with the help of TECK, CBT and others they were able to finally turn the dream into reality.
He introduced Minister Chong reading off all positions she has held in the past. Chong drew a laugh when she said “My Bio sounds like I can’t keep a job, but I am happy to be here to celebrate this building. This is going to be a very well used facility”. Looking up at the ceiling she pointed out the way it was done marvelling at the beautiful wood slats. She said Bennett was a strong supporter of the Elk Valley, “When the Towns for Tomorrow initiative came up “Bill was the first one to ask how he could get his hands on some of that money for his constituents. “We were happy to provide $400,000 to this building, this is a good partnership, kudos to all of you, this will be a hub to celebrate significant events, projects like this matter, this keeps jobs in BC, because wood used was manufactured in BC.”
Bennett spoke next saying he would focus on Dean, “Him being emotional makes me emotional, without his vision and the help of others including Council, TECK, CBT this wouldn’t have happened. I want to speak about the role of TECK in this valley, this region, in the province. No coal, no Elkford, this help allowed completion of the facility. Dean is the star of the show. When he gives you a tour you would think he hammered every nail himself.”
Cal McDougal spoke on behalf of TECK stating that the mine managers would have loved to been part of this but had prior commitments. Cindy Gallinger represented CBT saying she had suggested perhaps CBT could now consider hosting an AGM in the building. Bill Downing of Structureland, the company that produces the wood panels used in the building also spoke stating that this was the 50th anniversary of the company. “This is a first for us, the first building of its type in North America. This building will change the way buildings are structured from now on, why build from wood? It is environmentally friendly, it is a renewable product, it captures carbon, it is aesthetically beautiful and the panels are good for acoustics. This is still seen as a new product. I had engineers, contractors and the owner take a chance, this is a world class building”.
McKerracher thanked council, staff, engineers and contractors and everyone who contributed in any way to the success of the building. He said all contributors small and big, the initial committee, everyone is what made this vision a reality. He said that the history of Fording River and the history of Elkford in pictures would be on the walls of TECK Hall. He also extended thanks to the residents who live close by for putting up with the noise and vibration during construction.
He described the building briefly “it is 95 % wood with beams forty feet in length weighing five tons each, It is handicapped accessible and has a large kitchen with stainless steel units, a banquet hall that seats 420 people,(drawing a laugh when he said “20 more than in Fernie, Mary”) and it generates 750 tons of carbon offsets that equals 136 cars off the road”.
A video presentation by Alfred Horrie Construction that showed a step by step view of how it was erected was next. The day ended with a tour of the building and a barbecue for everyone.
Dignitaries attending the luncheon included Councillors McKie and MacIntyre and Mayor Halko from Sparwood, Rob Gay chair of Regional District Board, Director of Area A Mike Sosnoswki, Diana Brooks, CBT Director Cindy Gallinger, Neil Muth and Jennifer Krots from CBT, Carrie Schaeffer and Ian Cobb from E- Know news, Falkins Darlene Mosiondz, AHC Steven Paone and John Paone, representatives from Fortis, School District #5, and other invited guests as well as myself representing the City of Fernie and members of Elkford Council.
Sincere Congratulations to Elkford Mayor and Council, Staff, Contributors and residents on achieving an outstanding facility that will certainly attract attention because of its unique construction and use of wood products.