New facility would be a place for everyone

A group of community members is hoping to fire up Hay River residents to stand behind a new project it feels will benefit everyone. 

The small number of volunteers of various backgrounds has been working over the past few months on what they hope will become a community-driven project. 

Their vision: a centrally located, environmentally sustainable and cost-efficient building run and supported by the people of Hay River. The building would provide an inclusive space for all members of the community, not-for-profit organizations, local artists, local food producers and more.

Spokesperson for the group and building concept creator Francois Lamy said the community is lacking a common-use space and a gallery and studio space.

“The main idea is to have a hub for the Hub – a real community place where people can go,” said Lamy. “It’s open every day, it’s alcohol free and it’s open to everyone. It goes without saying that the community needs a space for the arts.”

So Lamy and four other members of the group – with backgrounds ranging from agriculture to art – came together to dream big. The plan involves a vertical greenhouse, a coffee house, daycare, studio and art space, dock, meeting rooms and more.

The zero-emission building they envision will be located at the centre of town, by the river, and would become a social and aesthetic asset, with a goal to uplift and benefit the spirit of the community. The initial cost of the building can’t be projected but could be in the high millions, said Lamy.

The building will incorporate environmentally sustainable technology such pellet boilers, solar panels and natural compounds for construction, which is driving the cost. Lamy said better to spend now to save later.

“Down the road it will be very cheap to run,” said Lamy. “That way you don’t run into problems of community groups trying to pay the bills.”

The working group is hoping to gather feedback, positive and negative, from individuals and community members. It is holding a public presentation in mid-April and currently has a survey circulating on Facebook.

This will help fill in the gaps of what could also be offered, or what might be currently lacking.

“I feel that this is the only thing this place needs,” said Lamy.

After their presentation they will compile all suggestions, rework their plan and look at completing a feasibility study.

The current timeline projects construction beginning in 2014 and  the building opening in 2015.

The public meeting will be held at the NWT Centennial Library at 7 p.m. April 18.