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Feds give $6.6 million to 17 Calgary community projects

Funding between $20,000 and $750,000 is being given to 17 different Calgary organizations and projects by the federal government.

The announcement by Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal was the latest in a series of PrairiesCan announcements that promised federal monies for municipal projects from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.

“These are important local projects that benefit Calgarians and provide infrastructure to communities in many different industries throughout the city,” said Chahal.

“It provides a tremendous benefit to all Calgarians from every corner of our city.”

Among the funds being distributed, $750,000 will be going to Contemporary Calgary for the refurbishment of their auditorium, $659,000 to the Elbow Park Residents Association to redevelop Elbow Park, $639,750 to the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary to create an Elders’ community centre and natural space, and $600,000 to the Calgary Downtown Assocation for the refurbishment of Stephen Avenue.

A total of five community association projects will be funded for a little over $1.75 million. Three arts and community organizations will receive $1.54 million. The remainder is going to eight City of Calgary projects located in all quadrants of the city.

Centennial Planetarium gets renewed auditorium

Contemporary Calgary CEO David Leinster said their renovation would be a return to the original vision for the Centennial Planetarium.

“This support unlocks tremendous potential for our auditorium, not only to be a place for contemporary art, but also to realize new partnerships in the community to activate and animate this historic auditorium in our city,” Leinster said.

“Much like how Sig Wieser thought of this space as more than just a planetarium in the 1970s, Contemporary Calgary sees this building as more than an art gallery. It’s a safe space for the community to come together to be inspired for the arts.”

Sig Wieser was the executive director of the Planetarium from 1966 until 1986. The auditorium space was turned into an area for children in the 1990s, with the seating and auditorium furniture removed in favour of Science Centre displays.

“It is with deep gratitude to PrariesCan, the Government of Canada, for their generous contribution to this project,” Leinster said.

“It’s helping us to restore the theatre back to its original use as a community auditorium, complete with staging, draping, lighting, and audio visual equipment to support a variety of diverse users and creators.”

The Planetarium won the Massey Medal in Architecture in 1970.

Sacred space for Elders

Krista White with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary said that their $639,750 in funding would help development of a space to improve the “outcomes from our Indigenous way of life.”

“This investment creates space for our youth and our elders to experience a living history with our indigenous knowledge keepers, sharing culture through our elders traditional storytelling, our sacred songs as they share their ancestral knowledge with a sense of pride and community belonging,” White said.

She called the funding from the federal government a beautiful blessing that is breaking down some barriers and challenges Indigenous people face in making urban centres home.

“Some of the challenges and the barriers that we face is the space, and creating this a safe, ethical space for our elders and for our youth to connect,” she said.

“There’s certain areas that where we cannot practice our spirituality, like for example smudging.”

She said that the creation of this space would allow for traditional Indigenous practices to be observed.

The funding will allow the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary to finish construction in early 2023, with programming to follow.

Investment into downtown, other communities around Calgary

Heather McRae, Director for Strategic Communications with the Downtown Calgary Association, said that the federal announcement was a timely one.

“We’re delighted with the investment at a time that we are seeking renewal for our downtown, where we ought to be investing in local businesses, local artists,” McRae said.

“It’s a very timely contribution, and we’re delighted with it.”

She said that details on the planned pedestrian upgrades for Stephen Avenue would be released later this year.

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong, speaking on behalf of Mayor Jyoti Gondek and City Council at the announcement, called the investments into Calgary important ones.

“Calgarians have been sequestered for the last two and a half years, and this opportunity allows us to open up spaces and create better enhanced areas whether that’s parks or pathways, and whether it be a community associations, buildings, or art facilities.”

He called the $6.6 million in funding targeted to meet the needs of the city, but said that there was a desire for more strategic funding in the future.

“That is targeted funding, and it is to help them crawl out of the problems that they have, whether it be for life cycle replacement or enhancement of facilities,” he said.

Coun. Wong said that it was important to see the funding go to all quadrants of the city, and that it was the right decision by the federal government.