Thursday, April 30, 2015

Town and MD to provide letters of support toward saving St. Michael's old gym (updated)

Toni Lucas

During the regular meeting of Pincher Creek Town Council on Monday, April 27, council unanimously voted to direct administration to provide the Pincher Creek Father Lacombe Council #2674 of the Knights of Columbus a letter in support of their efforts to preserve the old gym and associated classrooms at St. Michael's School. In a letter to town council dated April 1, 2015 the Knights of Columbus explained that historically the 'Filles de Jesus' (Daughters of Jesus) established the first Catholic School in Pincher Creek at the invitation of Father Lacombe in 1904. "Without their commitment and efforts it can be said with certainty, St. Michael's School would not exist."  The #2674 of the Knights of Columbus and the Father Lacombe Council are trying to save the facility since they believe the old gym and classrooms could become a Parish and Community Centre.

Update April 30, 2015:  Council for the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 also decided to provide a letter of support for the Pincher Creek Father Lacombe Council #2674 of the Knights of Columbus request as identified above, based upon receiving the same correspondence the Town received on the subject.

The letter states "The building is structurally sound and we believe has many more years of valuable use remaining. The cost of demolition is over $235,000.00 which can be saved or used, if possible, to help refurbish a needed and useful structure. The problem we have is that the architect has estimated over one million dollars to refurbish and modernize the facility, a figure we totally disagree with. We believe it can be done for significantly less and for a much more reasonable amount." The letter also states "We are not soliciting any funds since we believe that the Knights, through volunteer effort and asking for pledges, can complete the necessary refurbishment and changes required to meet building code."

"If we can get approval from Holy Spirit Catholic Schools and the Ministry of Education we hope to meet with groups such as Adult Education and others (e.g. who are interested in Drama, Fine Arts, Conference facilities etc.) who can advise and assist us on how to best utilize the proposed Centre."

Councillor Doug Thornton was concerned that in the future the Town may be asked to help financially support operating costs of the building such as heating. Mayor Don Anderberg said "As far as actually owning this building as the Town of Pincher Creek, that's a non-start. We are never going to own it, any part of that parcel of the land, because the church owns it. That's my belief."

The council unanimously voted to direct administration to send a letter of support for this initiative.

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