By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
The Coaldale Scouts are hoping that town council will help them find a permanent home and community space.
During their regular April 9 meeting, Coaldale town council met with a delegation from the Coaldale Scouts to discuss obtaining a possible community space and home for the Scouts.
Rex Alcock, a member of the delegation, explained that the Scouts and Guides programs in Coaldale do not have a permanent home. They currently meet in places such as basements and different places throughout town depending on what is available, but meeting in these places often is at a cost to the scouts and their use of the space can be cancelled on short or little notice.
“Coaldale has the fastest growing Scout population in the Chinook Council right now,” said Alcock. “Groups such as the Coaldale 3rd — where my son attends — are actually running out of room.”
Youth in Coaldale also don’t have a lot to do unless they are into seasonal sports, Alcock argued. Additionally, seniors within Coaldale are looking for a venue for events. Although there is a seniors center in the town, many seniors prefer going into Lethbridge because Coaldale doesn’t have the facilities for the activities they enjoy.
“People are leaving town, and if they have the energy at the end of the day, they are spending their time and money elsewhere.”
Although the town is planning to build new rec centre, it will be several years down the time before it would be used.
Alcock says that they are proposing a “stop gap measure” to council, so that groups have a place to go within the community for events, keep revenue here, support local businesses and create another facility for the town to use.
“We are asking that the town of Coaldale purchase the Lutheran Church on the (highway) 845,” said Alcock. “The benefits to the community are clear; simply put, it solves then or takes pressure off them as stated.”
He said that they have approached some businesses that are behind the idea, and are willing to support some events there.
The Scouts and Guides would also be able to make that space their permanent home, which would in turn open up other spaces for more long-term renter such as offices. The space could be used as a movie theatre as well.
In their proposal, a group of volunteers — which has already been put together, although a council member could potentially come on as a council liaison — would be running and taking care of the building, including financial, day-to-day and booking events. The town’s commitment to this would be “as little as possible”.
“We are looking to solve a lot of issues in this community, and fill a need we have good reason to believe that has gotten enough interest and support that we can make this building self-sustained. The town’s commitment would simple be to own the building until a suitable replacement is found or acquired. An alternative revenue we hope will be put in its place when the rec centre arrives, but ultimately, the ownership of the building would be to town’s to decide.”
Acknowledging that a big factor was the cost of the building; they didn’t have a number yet, but the town’s assessment of the property being $370,000 in evaluation.
As the building operated as a church, the town would lose no taxes on it. Some tradespeople have also said they would help with renovations. Letters of support from members of the community were also submitted to council.
Scout leader Wayne Etches said that the facility could be used for a number of things to produce revenue, such as weddings. He reiterated a need for a multi-use space, saying that as Coaldale has gotten bigger, they’ve lost spaces.
“Since ‘81, I’ve always been looking for this type of facility. When we were a smaller community, we used to have a movie theatre, we used to have a bowling alley. As we grow larger and larger, we seem to lose al this stuff,” said Etches.
“We look at the rec centre you’re building; you obviously see a need for this type of facility, and we’ve got a solution. We can provide you that for the five year period, and after the five years, the facility we’ve come up with replaces what we’re providing, move us out, sell the building and get you’re money back.”
Coun. Jacen Abrey voiced concern over if they do go forth with the proposal and end up encountering something like asbestos during renovations. Alcock said that a local home inspector was willing to look over the building for free for them and answer questions on it. Etches said that there was currently offices in the building and they didn’t need major renovations like walls coming down, but rather they would like to improve access t the property. Abrey said he would still like to know the costs with brining the site up to building standards.
Coun. Bill Chapman asked if they would be operating as the landlords, and there would be a rental formula for those who use the facility. Etches replied that they didn’t want to make money, but rather cover the costs.
“What we’re trying to do is get a venue that’s, you know economical for our groups,” said Etches, adding they don’t keep money from registrations and have to fundraise for it.
“It’s not going to be like Readymade, where it’s booked every weekend for a wedding, etcetera. We want to keep it open for seniors, we want to keep it open for Cubs, Guides, things like that, as much as we can. We will be running events to generate funds to just to fund the operation.”
Mayor Kim Craig said that he would like to see a business plan and know more about how they intend to run the building, although he acknowledge that its hard to provide them until council decides what they’re doing.
Later in the meeting, after the delegation left, council returned to the topic.
Council directed a motion to direct administration to explore pricing on the cost of the Redeemer Lutheran Church and its operating budget, and to work with the scout groups in regards to a building inspection.