Blackfalds residents saw the Eagle Builders Centre construction being completed in 2022.
This was one of the biggest milestones the town reached thoughout the past year, says Mayor Jamie Hoover.
“It opened in late 2021, but it wasn’t completely finished. It opened fully in early 2022 when it was complete,” Hoover said Monday.
The centre, which is the home to the Blackfalds Bulldogs, includes two rinks, concession, retail spaces and the 12,000-square-foot Servus Credit Union Public Library.
The town is continuing to work towards completing Border Paving Plaza, which will be located east of the Eagle Builders Centre.
“That will include a really fantastic community gathering space that we’re really excited about,” said Hoover.
The 24,000 square-foot space will feature a decorative stained concrete deck, stairs and ramps, landscape features, and a natural gas fire pit.
Coming off of two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, more events were held throughout central Alberta over the past year.
“I wouldn’t say 2022 was a complete return to normal,” Hoover noted.
“I felt like over the year, events started becoming more well-attended. But it started off slow – people were hesitant and I could certainly notice it. We’d like to see people feel like they could come out into the community again. That’s why the outdoor (Border Paving Plaza) gathering space is so exciting for us. I think people are more likely to take advantage of outdoor events.”
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Blackfalds high school took place this past May. Construction is expected to continue through 2023, with a targeted opening date of September 2024.
“Right now we’re sending our high school kids elsewhere. When you’re sending a few hundred of your youth, who are soon to become adults, to other places for school, you lose a bit of the culture in the community,” said Hoover.
“The high school will really be the catalyst for a shift in our youth taking an identity in our community. Whether that’s through the (sports) team they have or an artistic expression, all of those things have been primarily done in Lacombe. … I think once it’s open it’s going to define our community.”
Another exciting milestone in 2022 was moving the Blackfalds Food Bank into a bigger space, Hoover noted.
“It gives them an enormous amount of new space to work with, which allows them to offer all kinds of new things for the community,” he said.
There were hardships in 2022 as well, Hoover admitted.
“We have our challenges like everywhere else. The slowdown in the oil sector impacted us greatly – we’re still bouncing back like a lot of communities. COVID was a big challenge for us,” he said.