As the new Columbia Valley Centre opens its doors to host the David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) graduation dinner and banquet The Pioneer discussed the new space with Invermere mayor Gerry Taft. With a total of 17,000 square feet (1,600 square metres), the new space will house a variety of performances, banquets, fundraisers, sports and the library.

You know it is, first and foremost, a replacement of the existing hall, so it is larger space but it will be able to function and host the same events that have been traditionally happening at the old hall, said Mr. Taft.

He went on to say there’s going to be some newer or additional uses as well, with a lot of potential for performing arts, live music, and the cultural side of things that our current hall doesnt really get used for very often.

Taft said there’s definitely complexity with the new space being multi use, as there are some unknowns surrounding whether or not the space will have the capacity for recreational activities.

Council made the conscious decision that this space was going to be a bit more focus towards banquets, conferences and arts and a little less focused on recreation and gymnastics for example, said Mr. Taft.

A spring-loaded wooden floor in the main hall space has the capacity for sports such as dance and martial arts, but sports with balls are proving to be a concern.

Simply put it’s not a gymnasium, said Taft.

An advisory committee will be formed to look at recreational activities case-by-case before allowing them in the main hall.

We’re definitely interested in having this facility meet as wide a range of uses as possible, said Mr. Taft.

Mr. Taft is pretty happy with the building at this stage of construction, commenting on the rooftop patio, saying it’s unique space.

It was a very complex part of the building as far as access with the elevator, and as far as there was a full leak detection system with the roof. So it wasn’t a cheap component. It definitely was part of the cost of the building so hopefully it gets used well, said Mr. Taft.

During construction Mr. Taft realized it was going to be a really close call on whether or not the new deck would have a lake view between the existing buildings, saying he wasn’t surprised when he finally got up there and saw only one area has a lake view.

The view to the north of the wetlands is quite good, but yeah I wasn’t surprised but it was a little bit disappointing, it just is what it is. It would have been nice if there was more of a lake view, said Mr. Taft.

As the final stages of construction are underway the District of Invermere is hoping to see more donations for the centre come in.

Although we’ve had some generous donations we haven’t raised that much money from the private sector. So it would be great if we could see a few more donations, it would just increase the usability by having all these equipment pieces funded, said Mr. Taft.

If more donations don’t come in the district will look at taxation to cover costs of the retractable seating and additional equipment cost, which may cause a delay in the timing of the project completion. Despite a lack of funding in the final stage Mr. Taft is expecting the public to be impressed with the new space.