Red Deer County invests $200,000 more into Bowden Community Hall

Red Deer County council was in a giving mood, turning over $200,000 towards the completion of the Bowden Community Hall.

That was twice what the Expanding Horizons Bowden Cultural Enhancement Society had asked council for Tuesday.

The contribution puts the society about $38,000 shy of what it needs and chair Mabel Hamilton is confident the group will get there.

“We can do that,” said Hamilton.

“It’s a very big relief. It’s amazing the county has understood the need for this community to have a boost, which is what this is.”

Originally budgeted at $1.8 million, the total costs came in at $2.4 million. When completed the 6,500-square-foot hall will have a banquet area capable of hosting up to 350 people.

The society approached Red Deer County asking for an additional $100,000, but it was Coun. Connie Hueslman who thought it would be worth a bigger investment.

“I want to see this project finished,” she said, adding Red Deer County residents make up about 53 per cent of the users of the hall.

The County has already contributed $600,000 to the completion, but some councillors were adamant that funding halls was essential.

“It’s a nice hall, but it’s not grandiose or over built,” said County Mayor Jim Wood. “I believe if we grant a smaller amount, we’re setting the hall up for failure. The halls are one of the best investments we make in our communities. We’re helping a community build a facility that will be shared by everyone.”

Council approved the funding in a 5-2 vote with Phillip Massier and Richard Lorenz voting against the $200,000 motion, but saying they would have supported $100,000.

“I don’t know if we can bail them out for every nickel they need,” said Massier.

The commercial kitchen is the top priority for the hall, as finishing it will help the hall start bookings right away. The society is also trying to create a weekly farmer’s market at the site.

“We’re a small community, but we’re a very vibrant rural community,” said Hamilton. “The fact we’ve been given this extra money is just the shot in the arm we needed. We’re so proud of our community and of Red Deer County for supporting us and understanding that this hall is a plus for everyone.”

The hall should be open by the end of March.

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