Wakefield, QC community centre dream comes true

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by Trevor Greenway on August 12, 2009

The Wakefield Community Centre conceptual drawing

The Wakefield Community Centre conceptual drawing

$3.6 million from feds, Que

Wakefield, it’s going to happen. Your long awaited community centre dream is about to become a reality, thanks to a $3.6 million grant just announced from the feds and province.

More than 30 villagers cheered in appreciation on the morning of Aug. 10, as MP Lawrence Cannon and MNA Stephanie Vallee made the funding announcement for Wakefield La Peche Community Centre Cooperative.

The government funding is the crucial step to a project that has long been underway. The remaining funds have been almost completely raised, according to Stephen Sabean, President of the cooperative.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be at the next step,” said Sabean following the press conference at the Wakefield Recreation Centre.

So far, the cooperative has raised more than $15,000 in fundraising events and more cash has come from elsewhere, said Sabean.

Nearly $80,000 was brought in from founding donors, while individual donors gave another $33,000 to the project. Wakefield businesses also chipped in $30,000; the municipality of La Peche committed $1.48 million over 20 years; Le Centre local de développement des Collines (CLD) contributed a whopping $100,000 while the Caisse populaire Desjardins de Masham- Luskville gave another $75,000.

Sabean said the cooperative is also banking on the sale of the existing library, which will be sold at about $300,000.

Although it’s nice to get big financial help from those above, Sabean feels that the real work started at a grass roots level and the people of Wakefield should really pat themselves on the back for making such a dream project a reality.

“It’s only because of the grass roots work that this has happened,” he said.

Cannon, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, announced that his government will inject just over $1.8 million towards the project as part of the “Building Canada” fund that will invest $33 billion dollars over seven years to improve the Canadian economy.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” said Cannon to an excited crowd who cheered him on as he finished his speech.

“Congrats and thank you for your hard work.”

Gatineau member of the National Assembly, Stephanie Vallee also announced that the provincial government would match the feds by contributing another $1.8 million towards the $5.6 million project. After her speech, Vallee turned to the conceptual drawings of the Wakefield Community Centre behind her and she began to smile.

“I’m happy to see that there is some wood in this building,” she said to the crowd, adding that local products could be used to construct the building to boost the area’s economy.

La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere sat smiling the entire time, tickled pink by how another “dream” of La Peche has been realized.

“We are showing together just how much we can do when we work together,” he said, speaking to the entire crowd.

Sabean says the next phase will be dedicated to finishing up the concept drawings, which are nearing completion.

Once the drawings are done, then the tendering process will begin, and, if everything is in line, construction could begin as soon as late fall. If the snow falls before the project is able to break ground, then construction would begin in early spring 2010, but the whole thing should be completed by the end of 2010, said Sabean.

The new community centre will feature a gym, a library, a youth centre, an outdoor hockey rink/skateboard park, as well as meeting rooms, exterior courtyards and pedestrian walking trails.

There is still some fundraising that needs to be done to pay for hidden costs, so don’t put away your wallets just yet.

To check out the design of the building, visit the Wakefield La Peche Community Centre Cooperative’s website at www.wakefieldcentre.ca and click on “the project.”