Thumbs up for a new community centre

March 5, 2020

All photo credit: District of New Hazelton

District of New Hazelton receives $215,000 grant to renovate building

In 2011, the District of New Hazelton Mayor and Council recognized that their community would soon need a new place to celebrate, participate in workshops, meet, cook and more so they began a reserve fund with the goal of purchasing a space to create into a community centre. In 2018, this opportunity was realized, and the District of New Hazelton purchased a 7,080 square-foot building that was originally built as a store in the local mall. In August 2019, the Erwin Stege Community Centre opened to the public.

Hannalore Stege, celebrates the opening of the new Erwin Stege Community Centre by cutting the ribbon. The facility is named after Erwin Stege, Hannalore’s husband.

After signing the purchase agreement, the District of New Hazelton successfully applied to Northern Development’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program for $215,014 to help make the space welcoming to the community’s needs. The Trust’s grant, along with the District’s reserve, meant that the building could be renovated without financially burdening local taxpayers.

“Commemorating the grand opening of the Erwin Stege Community Centre shortly after the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre’s opening celebrations was absolutely incredible for our community,” said Mayor Gail Lowry of District of Hazelton. “The new community centre is well-equipped to host more than 200 people and its versatility means that multiple user groups can rent different areas simultaneously. From a modern commercial kitchen to rentable office space, the centre fills many gaps that New Hazelton had. Thanks to savvy financial planning by District staff and Northern Development’s grant, we’re proud that we were able to provide taxpayers with a new welcoming facility without financially encumbering them.”

The new community centre replaces the former community hall, which was operated by the Skeena Lions Club and needed significant repairs that were estimated to cost more than the value of the building. Extensive work was completed at the new community centre, with support poles being replaced with a structural support beam, insulation was added, new floors, ceiling and walls were installed and the commercial kitchen, meeting space, office spaces and washrooms were all updated.

“The facility is so great,” said Dianne Starr, a local caterer that has used the new kitchen for multiple events. “Everything’s absolutely top-notch, there’s lots of stoves and lots of space for preparing food for lots of people. It’s really set up our community and it’s nice knowing we have an up-to-date facility ready to host events. I give it a thumbs up.”

Being able to complete and customize the new facility to the needs of the community meant that the District of New Hazelton can welcome multiple user groups concurrently. This allows the community centre to better serve more people while also providing increased revenue for the District of New Hazelton.

Funding for the Erwin Stege Community Centre comes from Northern Development’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure funding program. This grant program invests in major infrastructure project to strengthen the local economy. Up to $250,000 in grant funding to a maximum of 70 per cent of the project’s budget is available to First Nations, local governments and non-profit organizations.