New community programs centre to open

Okotoks: Former fire hall now a recreation space.

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 10:53 am

Community programs team leader Janette Messer reaches in to one of the supply new cupboards at the Southside Community Programs Centre. The former fire hall has been transformed into a multipurpose area for the community.
Community programs team leader Janette Messer reaches in to one of the supply new cupboards at the Southside Community Programs Centre. The former fire hall has been transformed into a multipurpose area for the community.
Roxanne Blackwell/OWW

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It may still look like a garage on the outside, but the inside of the former south fire hall has been transformed to an inviting community space.

The Southside Community Programs Centre will be opening on August 6 after a six-month renovation to turn it into a recreation area. What used to be a concrete floor is now a sports floor, and the barren walls that used to house the fire trucks are now lined with cupboards filled with craft supplies.

“It really was a great creative way to utilize this building,” said Okotoks community programs team leader Janette Messer. “When the Southridge Emergency Services building opened up we started taking about what could we do to best use this space.”

As the social wellness framework that was completed in 2010, the town recognized a need for south side programming in town, as well as additional preschool and childcare options. Converting the fire hall was a way to fill those voids while also using an empty space.

“This just provided us with an ideal opportunity when it became vacant and because it is so close to the (Centennial) arena for any activities that we do, there’s also Howard Park so it becomes a nice kind of campus.” Messer said.

The building was once the Town’s south fire hall. The fire truckes moved into the Southridge Emergency Services Station when it opened, leaving the space empty. Town council approved $85,000 in funding in the Town’s 2014 budget to renovate the building and the Town went to work on creating the multipurpose space over the last six months.

“We were held up a little bit because of the flood last year because of the floods it was difficult to find contractors and obviously there were some priorities in the area,” she said. “But we’re really happy with it.”

Now that it’s finished, residents are being welcomed to come take a peek and learn more about what the facility will offer to the community.

“We’re having a little reception with a ribbon cutting from 4 to 7 p.m. (on Aug. 6) and we're going to have an open house where the public can come, have a look at the place, meet some of the community programs staff that work for the town of Okotoks,” she said. “Then they can explain a bit more about what will be happening in this building and area.”

Right now, the Okotoks School Age Care is scheduled to run an additional program out of the building, and there are also children and preschool programming planned as well as adult fitness classes starting this fall.


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