Newcomers drawn to Springbrook for its affordability will discover a hamlet rich in community spirit.
“The new builds out here are increasing. Many new people have moved to Springbrook,” said Tariann Bowman, president of the Springbrook Community Association.
Springbrook offers a sense of community that people are looking for — and when they get there, embrace, believes Bowman.
She offers an example: in 2017, the community association held a Halloween event. A dozen people showed up.
“The last couple of years, we’ve had over 300 people show up.”
The last Christmas event was entirely sponsored by local businesses and drew 400 to 500 people.
So, there is no shortage of community involvement. What is missing, however, is a proper facility where the community can gather for special events, to celebrate weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.
Bowman and community association secretary Jacquie Apedaile made their pitch for a community hall on Tuesday as council discussed changes to an area structure plan for the hamlet.
Bowman told county councillors on Tuesday that at a recent event, an elderly woman from the community with mobility issues had to crawl up the stairs to get to an event she wanted so much to be a part of.
“That’s pretty big motivation to get a hall that’s successful,” she said later in an interview.
Apedaile told council the lack of an accessible local gathering place is having a “profound impact” on the community.
Springbrook’s growth and new business opportunities are only part of the equation that makes it successful, she said. “It’s a community where quality of life is equally important.”
The two venues used now are former CFB Penhold barracks but they are not handicapped accessible and have heating and electrical problems among many other issues.
A community hall has been on the local wish list since the early 2000s, when the population was far smaller. The 2021 census showed Springbrook’s official population of 1,534 had grown 42 per cent since 2011. Bowman believes based on the number of new homes built and new faces in the community the 2021 number is very much on the low side now.
The push for a hall eventually lost steam but was revived in 2017.
About $8,000 was raised to develop plans for a two-phase project to build an 11,690-square-foot facility that would have seating space for 450 people and a banquet hall for 250. The first phase would create a facility for community events, including space for a daycare. The second phase would provide offices for community services staff and their programs, meeting rooms, and youth activity and playschool areas.
The total cost was estimated at $6 million in 2021, but the price tag is sure to have gone up given inflation. The county committed $2.1 million towards the project in 2022 to help the association apply for a provincial Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant.
CFEP provides up to $1 million to acquire, build, buy, repair, renovate, upgrade or expand sports, recreational, cultural or other related public-use community facilities.
The association was disappointed to see its application turned down. They were told the project was not considered “shovel-ready” because no site had been guaranteed.
Unfortunately, that remains an issue. A site had been set aside in Red Deer County plans for the area, but it had a poor location on the other side of busy Airport Drive and was dropped.
Bowman said residents were glad to see that location ditched, but an alternative site has not yet been identified. A site for a dog park, another community need, is also wanted.
Even without a site, the association has applied again this year for a CFEP grant in hopes something happens on the site front soon.
County Mayor Jim Wood said the county wants to work with the community to find the best location.
“We have to try to figure out what works best for the Hamlet of Springbrook as far as location,” said Wood.
It will be a big project that will require a lot of funding to make it happen, he added.