The Bezanson Agricultural Society has just $400,000 left to fundraise for its $4 million community cultural centre. The provincial government handed over a cheque for $750,000 from the Community Facility Enhancement Program Tuesday, which capital campaign manager Laura LaValley says gives them the go ahead to get shovels in the ground.
“We are commencing construction here at the end of September, which we’re very excited about. Basically, this grant funding has allowed us to propel the timelines forward and start construction here in the fall.”
The project is a 16,000 square foot expansion to the existing hall in Bezanson, and it will include a 400 seat banquet area that will double as basketball and volleyball courts. LaValley says the bigger space will also have a commercial kitchen and bar and sports change rooms.
“It’s really important to our community; we know that our school kids will get a lot of use out of it. We’re pretty sure this is going to become the hub of Bezanson and give us an opportunity to host bigger events and just have a really great place where our community members can gather for years to come.”
Providing major backing to the facility has been the County of Grande Prairie, which contributed $2.19 million. The capital campaign has raised more than $600,000 as well, through corporate sponsorship, gifts-in-kind, and personal donations.
One thing still outstanding is the building’s naming rights. LaValley says they’re looking to bring in $250,000 through that avenue and are in talks with several local corporations. She says she’s confident they’ll come up with the rest of the funds needed.
“We’ve had great community support and Bezanson has a history of coming together and making great things happen and this facility is no different… I think that when our community sees that we’ve begun to build this thing, they’ll drum up a lot more enthusiasm and hopefully the funds as well.”
Construction is pegged to take 10 to 12 months. Also receiving CFEP funds this year is the North Peace Youth Support Association out of Fairview. $45,000 will help cover the costs of an executive director and staff training for their youth programming.