The $100,0000 donation will go to the Columbia Valley Centre, which was officialy opening in September of this year. File photo

Former Dragon’s Den panelist directs big donation to Columbia Valley Centre

W. Brett Wilson’s Calgary Foundation to donate $100,000 to naming of lobby at CVC

The Calgary Foundation will be donating a substantial chunk of money to the naming of the new Columbia Valley Centre’s lobby.

Invermere council received a letter during its Tuesday, October 10th meeting from Calgary entrepreneur and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson, outlining that Mr. Wilson is recommending the Calgary Foundation, as administrators of the Kayak Foundation, to forward $100,000 to the naming of the lobby.

“We look forward to seeing the space used and grown into a focal point of the Columbia Valley community,” wrote Mr. Wilson.

The entrepreneur has been a seasonal Valley resident, owning a second home here for many years, and is perhaps best known to Canadians as a former Dragon’s Den panelist.

At the same meeting council received another letter regarding fundraising for the new centre, from local resident Bob Walker, which was critical of the current fundraising priorities.

In the letter, Mr. Walker wrote that it seemed the Columbia Valley Centre fundraising committee’s main push now is for the additional $95,000 needed for fold-out theatre seating. He iterated that it had previously been made clear by council that the fundraising committee would focus on raising funds for the main, non-user group-specific aspects of the centre and for the library, while dedicated user groups such as the Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club, the Invermere Judo Club, Columbia Valley Arts (CV Arts), and Columbia Valley Players would be responsible for raising funds for specialized equipment related to their unique needs as a user group.

According to Mr. Walker the fundraising committee “should be prioritizing funding for the main hall divider, kitchen, projector and screen, and solar panels. The idea of having the fold-out seating is great but that funding is the sole responsibility of Columbia Valley Arts, not the Columbia Valley Centre fundraising committee, nor the district, nor the taxpayer.”

Mr. Walker went on to outline various reasons why the projects he mentioned should get funding before the fold-out theatre seating.

“The current prioritizing by the finance committee is putting the ‘cart before the horse’. I understand why the Columbia Valley Arts people involved would like to have the theatre seating first, however this is not in the best interest or the responsibility of neither the community nor district,” he wrote.

Council members were quick to disagree with Mr. Walker’s points.

“I think the seating is going to get used for a lot more than just arts,” said councillor Paul Denchuk.

Councillor Justin Atterbury, who chairs the Columbia Valley Centre fundraising committee, pointed out that about 80 per cent of the fundraising committee is comprised of volunteers from CV Arts.

“They are the ones with the big money connections,” he said. “They raised these funds.”

Mr. Denchuk also said he feels Mr. Walker’s assessment of the relative importance of the various projects may not be totally correct.

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