The first glimpse of sun many have seen in days was beaming down its rays on all those attending the official ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the Elkford Community Conference Centre. Residents, business owners, visitors and many honoured dignitaries attended to formally celebrate the opening of the state of the art building.
Along with Mayor Dean McKerracher, Council and Staff, Minister Ida Chong from the Ministry of Community, Sport & Cultural Development, Bill Bennett, MLA Kootenay East, representatives from Columbia Basin Trust, Teck Coal Limited and the Canadian Wood Council joined Elkford to celebrate this momentous event. Mayor McKerracher, Minister Chong and Mr. Bennett kicked off the event with the official ribbon cutting, which heard cheers of elation from all of those looking on.
After the ribbon cutting was the Grand Opening Ceremony held in the Teck Hall. Mayor McKerracher opened the event by providing a brief overview of the project and acknowledged the efforts and contributions of those that helped make the project possible. “This building has been a vision of Elkford’s for many years. Waiting for the doors to open gave me the same feeling as I had when I was waiting for my wife to deliver our babies,” said McKerracher. “Every time I look at this building, I stand in awe. We are so proud, the facility is beautiful and is even more exceptional as it is sitting on the traditional land of the Ktunaxa. We are pleased to welcome everyone, today and in the future,” he said.
Speeches were made by Minister Ida Chong, who commented on the beauty and importance of the facility. “The government of B.C. contributed $400,000 toward the Elkford Community Conference Centre, from the Towns for Tomorrow program which helps B.C. communities address their infrastructure needs while creating jobs and supporting the economy,” said Minister Chong “This spectacular building – built to conserve energy and with a reduced environmental footprint offers something for everyone and will be the social heart of the community. Elkford, I hope you enjoy this building for many years to come,” she says. “Congratulations!” says MLA Bill Bennett. “I am really proud to call Dean McKerracher my friend. Without him, we would not be standing here in this building,” says Bennett who also gave credit to Teck and the huge contribution they are to the Valley. “It is important for us to recognize how fortunate we are to have a company that is so invested in their community,” he says. Cal McDougall, the Land and Housing Administrator for Teck commended Elkford on their vision for the building and chuckled as he mentioned Teck now has a place to host Christmas parties. Cindy Gallinger, a Columbia Basin Trust Board Member spoke of the uniqueness of the building and praised Elkford for creating a legacy in the Columbia Basin Trust. The final speaker Bill Downing, President of Structurlam Product spoke of the matchless qualities within the structure of the building and the first of its kind use of cross laminated timbers, seeing one structural wall that is seven two by six boards thick. “This building is built out of 95% wood. This is a renewable building material and almost all of the wood came from right here in the Kootenays. This is a world class facility,” concluded Downing.
The $6.4 million energy-efficient Community Conference Centre is constructed of structural wood which captures carbon and conserves maximum energy and reduces the Centre’s environmental footprint. The 1,800-square-metre building features a Visitor Centre, playschool, commercial kitchen, banquet hall with a stage for the performing arts, multi-purpose meeting rooms as well as historical displays. The building is being widely recognized for its innovative use of wood products, as it is the first commercial application of Cross Laminated Timbers (CLT) wall panels in North America. “The wood use in our new centre provides beautiful aesthetics while supporting the wood industry and wood innovation in our province. This building will play a key role in helping our community grow and prosper, benefitting current and future generations.” proudly boasted Mayor Dean McKerracher.
The community celebrated with a BBQ and tours of the new facility through the afternoon and into the evening.