Sexsmith could soon see a boost to its arts and recreation sector with the town's newly proposed amphitheatre.
The proposal came from the Sexsmith Wellness Coalition on Monday night at the regular meeting of town council.
“Amphitheaters have been around for thousands of years; they have traditionally been great gathering spaces for community, and we have a vision for this one would be the same for us,” Melody Sample, Sexsmith wellness co-ordinator, told Town & Country News.
The estimated cost of the ampitheatre, with a capacity between 200-250, is $400,000. Sample said much of the funding will come from grants.
On Monday night, council decided to support the project with a commitment of up to 25 per cent of the cost, pending grant approvals, to a maximum of $100,000. The funds will be coming from the town’s reserves.
“There is some grant money that's available, and we would like to look for grant funding for as much of it as we possibly can,” said Sample.
The Wellness Coalition will have till July 23 to apply for the Western Economic Diversification Canada grant from the Canada Community Revitalization fund, which would provide up to 75 per cent of the project's cost.
There would also be $10,000 from the Alberta Healthy Communities Initiative grant and $10,000 to 20,000 from the Rural Mental Health Project grant.
In the wellness coalition’s presentation to council, the remaining $70,000 was expected to come from community partners, fundraisers and the town.
Sample said Sexsmith has various gathering spaces, but nothing built specifically for a large group of people focused on arts and culture.
“Something that we feel we've been missing or lacking is arts and culture within Sexsmith, and this would be a place for that.”
The amphitheatre would be built to be used year-round and would have multiple uses, such as recreation.
Councillors on Monday night urged the committee to ensure that the amphitheatre is a multipurpose area to optimize its usage.
Sample hopes the amphitheatre will be located near the walking trails close to the ball diamonds to make it easily accessible.
“One of the things I love about what (is) proposed is actually the location, obviously taking into consideration that it's a green space that's not used at this point,” said mayor Kate Potter.
She believes that the theatre is needed as a safe way to bring the community together after a year of being apart.
“We also feel that the importance of the social fabric in our community is something that needs to be focused on for the next year or two coming out of COVID.”
“Supporting safe ways for the community to gather and enjoy one another and to experience programs and events together, that's important.”
Coun. Jonathan Siggelkow did bring up the concern that some residents may have issues with the noise from the amphitheatre.
There will be a time for the community to voice their input on the planned project this fall.
The wellness committee is looking for a quick turnaround on the project with development to begin in April or May 2022 and the project to be completed by next summer.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News