Last week an article came out in the local newspaper that talked about a new path forward for the Legacy Centre.
For me, I don’t believe the article did a good job illustrating what was taking place, and how we got into this situation. To the reporter’s credit it is probably mostly my fault as I haven’t been very forthcoming with information. We have been working through the majority of the issues and some of the behind the scene details for the past several months.
In an effort to paint a clearer picture, here’s what’s happening.
The Legacy Centre is owned by a corporation with five equal members: Slave Lake Elks, Lesser Slave Lake Childcare Society, Town of Slave Lake, MD of Lesser Slave River and the Sawridge First Nation. It is run by a board with a rep from each as well as two public members.
The Legacy Centre was built to provide some community space which included a theatre that the Elks would operate, and some much needed daycare space that the childcare society would operate. Whatever it would cost to operate the building would be split between the parties, the Slave Lake Elks, and the Lesser Slave Lake Childcare Society.
We also have some additional rental space that the corporation has leased to WJS, this area is upstairs, and it provides revenue which offsets the cost to operate the building. The daycare side has been operating quite well and has been a great community asset. On the Slave Lake Elks side of the facility, the theatre space, bar and kitchen was set up to be operated by the Elks. Over the last 18 months the Elks have been handling all the set-up, cleaning, bookings and operation of this side of the building. This can be a monumental task for a group of dedicated volunteers.
In return for operating this side of the facility they would receive all the revenue, but also had to incur all the expenses.
The Elks are an extremely dedicated group of individuals who have been raising funds for this community for over 30 years. Having no building for two years has had its effect on their membership and taking on the operations of a $19 million dollar building that no one has ever operated and owned by a group that never before existed is a huge task. The Elks have been pouring their heart and soul into its operation, but busting your butt to make money for rent doesn’t inspire any community organization.
Over the past several months the corporation has been working with the Elks to develop a new path forward that adds capacity to the operations and sets up the Elks organization for future success and takes the burden off them. To that end the corporation has contracted the Town of Slave Lake to take over day to day operations, including bookings, and maintenance of the facility. The Elks will still operate the bar area and host their own events.
The corporation intends to grow the use of the hall, kitchen, community theatre, and two boardrooms, to make attempts to optimize use of the building. All current bookings will not be affected and by March 1st, the Town will take over bookings.
We hope with this increased capacity we can build upon the customer experience users get and let the Elks focus on what they do best... helping the community.
We will immediately be looking at the booking process, and see how we can tweak the process to make it more user-friendly. Then we will begin examining rates to make sure we are affordable, and attractive to users. We will also be working with local groups and industry to maximize usage. Over time we will see what we can do to develop our own programming and events for the space as well.
I want to thank the Elks for their dedication and commitment to this project. They, along with all the partners, have invested time, money, and energy to see this facility succeed.
Those same partners will continue to work together in this new evolution of the facility operation.
I want to say that this amenity adds to the quality of life of the residents of this region. I look forward to working with the rest of the corporation’s ownership to see its use maximized.