Programming possibilities abound at new facility
Spirit Centre has already hosted a pair of concerts
With the Westlock Rotary Spirit Centre now being officially open, recreation programming opportunities in Westlock will be more plentiful than ever before.
Hundreds of residents, ranging from infants to seniors, got a first look at the new facility during the grand opening celebrations last Saturday, something town staff say is the first step in letting people know what’s available.
“It’s great,” said town community services program supervisor Courtney von Rennenkampf. “There’s lots of kids, lots of parents and lots of interaction.”
The turnout for the event was a positive sign for the town, indicating there’s already a lot of interest in the facility.
“We’re happy; there is as much as we ha expected and more,” she said.
The town’s interim recreation director, Tommy Philips, said the facility is “absolutely fantastic” and is in many ways superior to the facilities in comparably sized towns, giving Westlock a big boost in terms of recreation.
“People are genuinely interested in what the facility has to offer,” he said.
The fieldhouse in particular is expected to be a big draw, as in the past independent recreation groups in town have had to clamour to find suitable gym space.
With the equivalent of three full-sized gymnasiums now available in the Spirit Centre, user groups can spend more time doing what they do and less time looking for space.
Philips said the plan for the field house is to run have three different types of activities possible at any given time.
The first would be structured programming, where town staff would directly deliver programming. This could mean using the space for things like referees’ clinics or other types of lessons.
The second would be semi-structured, where an external group would rent the space and provide classes, lessons or practices in the facility, such as a volleyball club.
The third section would be available for individual groups to rent to do whatever they’d like. If a group wanted to get together for a weekly game of pick-up basketball, for example, they could rent the space in the Spirit Centre to do it.
Philips added the facility has proved to be a good venue for concerts, as well, as evidenced by the successful Randy Travis concert on June 12; the technical crew for the production spoke highly of the facility and its capabilities for hosting that kind of an event.
“And these guys are straight out of Nashville,” he said. “They’re immersed in music.”
Many community groups, such as the Westlock Library, Westlock Parent Link Centre, Westlock Fun Hockey and a host of others we also represented at the event.
“We though we should feature some of their programming, as well,” von Rennenkampf said.
The general consensus amongst them was that the Spirit Centre promises to offer a wide range of new opportunities, but the enthusiasm is tempered with a bit of caution.
Wendy Hodgson-Sadgrove, the assistant director of the Westlock Municipal Library, was on hand promoting the library’s summer reading program. She said while she’s interested in seeing what kind of opportunities might be available at the facility, the library has no firm plans yet.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the space is working, then we can figure out how we fit in to it,” she said.
Members of the younger generation were uniformly excited about the new building, and what kinds of things they’ll be able to do in it.
Austin Sheldrake, 12, said he can see himself doing many different sports in the new facility, and hopes to be able to play some indoor soccer.
“I think it’s a great building,” he said.
Ethan Brost, 12, said he’s excited to get on the ice in the fall in the new arena when the hockey season starts up.
“I think it’s very nice, once of the nicest I’ve seen,” he said.
The facility is now open to the public, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. For more information contact that town office at 780-349-4444.
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