Volunteer Laurie Waltham cuddles the ambassador skunk at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

New Medicine River Wildlife Centre hospital is slowly coming together

The project’s completion will depend on one last fundraiser and a matching grant

Carol Kelly is embarking on what will hopefully be the last leg of her decade-long journey towards getting a new hospital at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre.

It should be pretty smooth sailing, said the centre’s executive-director, as long as a last planned fundraiser is a success. “It’s been a long haul… but I’m feeling much more hopeful these days,” she said.

For every road block or detour on the way to a new hospital, Kelly has been overwhelmed by public generosity.

One donor dropped by with a $30,000 cheque and asked that remain an anonymous gesture, she said. Another donor agreed to pay for all the windows and doors of the new hospital, added Kelly. Thunderbird Roofing of Sundre has offered to install roof shingles on the new hospital for free.

So far, the shell of the new hospital is sitting empty beside the existing aging and inadequate facility.

In the original building with leaking ceilings, the injured animal pens were moved into the educational interpretive centre, which was closed until a new facility can be built.

Among the speed bumps the animal hospital project has encountered is losing out on a government grant Kelly had been counting on. The centre is also now having to sue a “dishonest contractor,” said Kelly, who alleges the guy took money allegedly without doing his promised work on the project.

“I will never trust someone again without having a rock-solid written contract,” she added

Centre staff and volunteers will soon be making the rounds of Central Alberta businesses and libraries starting next week selling the newest in a series of Otis the Owl books for kids, called Chatting with Charlie. Each book costs $15 and a set of four will go for $50.

If Kelly manages to sell all 2,500 books, she will have nearly $40,000 for paying off operating costs for the rest of the year. She said the centre usually falls a bit short, since it relies on private fundraisers and an occasional casino to run the facility.

She still has a capital goal of raising $170,000 to finish and furnish the animal hospital — a soon-to-be-announced fundraiser is planned.

If the last $170,000 can be raised, Kelly said she will be a good position to apply for a matching grant and finally finish the plumbing, heating, concrete floors and the interiors of the project.


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Volunteer Clive Reynolds, of Red Deer, observes the injured birds in the outdoor enclosure at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Laurie Waltham, of Sundre, brought an injured bat to the Medicine River Wildlife Centre in a pizza box. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

The unfinished new animal hospital at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

The existing animal hospital, which was moved into the aging and inadequate interpretive area at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

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