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The Norman Ritchie Community Centre is getting much needed attention, and a spokesperson for the ongoing upgrades says several projects have been completed.
“We’ve hit some milestones,” said Lorne Kelsey, a representative of NRC Management Inc. and a supervisor of construction for the upgrades. “First of all, we kind of completed the roof and that was the first major project that kind of saved the building.”
Kelsey, who has a background in contracting and building, said the finishing touches were made on the roof project near the end of May. The repaired roof is protecting the centre from the elements, so it is the main piece of the puzzle to help preserve the building for years to come, he said.
The next stage of the project was to upgrade the building’s heating system, and also to add a cooling system. The building’s old furnaces were 30 years old and they have been replaced with new energy efficient furnaces.
A new air conditioning system has been installed and Kelsey said the entire building is cooled by the new system. He said it will create a more comfortable environment for concerts and events in the late spring, summer and early fall.
The ability to provide a climate controlled facility is one of the major milestones of the project, the construction supervisor said. One of the goals for the centre’s management board is for the building to be rented for weddings or other private events, so air conditioning is an important addition, he explained.
Another upgrade to the inside of the building is new LED lighting in the auditorium and on stage. The old lighting could only be turned on or off, but the new LED lighting has a dimmer system to have various levels of lighting, Kelsey said.
Another project is more noticeable.
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“We’re putting a new front entrance on it,” he said of the next project for the building, which will feature an entirely new and fresh appearance after the exterior work has been completed.
Kelsey said new windows have been installed on the second floor above the front entrance area and the windows give the facade an altogether different look.
The old front doors will be removed and the new doors – mechanical sliding doors – will be part of the improved front entrance.
The construction supervisor said project officials accepted tenders for the work, and a local contractor was awarded the job to install glass walls and doors at the entrance. The glass walls and doors will be even with the existing south and east walls.
A new finished concrete floor has been poured in front of the old doors and the entire open area under the overhang will be enclosed. After people enter through the sliding doors, they will first walk onto the concrete floor before they walk onto the carpet in the foyer, Kelsey explained.
“It’s going to look new and modern,” he said of the upgrades to the entrance, adding that the new layout for the front entrance will also create more space for people to move around in the foyer during breaks in concerts.
The new entrance will also be more attractive to people from the inside, he noted. Kelsey said three windows will be installed in the south wall on the second floor of the building to provide natural light to rooms used by Sun West School Division.
Kelsey said the board wants to build a new kitchen in a meeting room space located behind the washrooms on the ground level of the building. The goal is to have a kitchen suitable for caterers to cook meals for up to 100 people.
The construction supervisor said the kitchen will be a future project. The board received a Canada 150 grant for more than $100,000 to cover half of the cost for upgrades, but there is not enough money left for the kitchen. Kelsey said a kitchen has always been part of the plan.
In order to complete the kitchen project, the management board is going to have to raise money, he said. But with the fundraising underway for the new aquatic centre, Kelsey said the board would wait to start its fundraising.
Project officials were able to salvage items from the old aquatic centre, he said. Washroom stalls in the facility were only about 10 years old, so they have been salvaged and the plan is to replace older wooden stalls in the basement washrooms at the community centre. A new fire alarm system is also being installed.
“We’ve had a really good relationship on this whole project with the town,” Kelsey said, adding that the Town of Kindersley has supported NRC Management throughout the process and the board has made progress. “We’ve worked hand in hand.”
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