A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Saturday that was 45 years in the making for a new community centre in the Knottwood neighbourhood in southeast Edmonton.
“I think it’s amazing, when I walked in, I felt energy,” Knottwood resident Brenda Kaufman said. “I felt all the work and blessings that came into this building.”
“I’m excited, I play crib with a lot of the people in the neighbourhood and we’re looking for a nice new place to play,” another resident Jamie Wichart added.
The grand opening coincided with Community League Day, a time when leagues all around the city celebrate what community is all about.
But for the Knottwood community league, this is a significant celebration. It began fundraising decades ago after outgrowing its previously used aging building.
“We weren’t able to do much in the little building, it was a daycare, and often times it would take precedent over other programs because that was the way we made money and it was a priority at the time,” Kaufman said. “But as our community league has evolved, so is our community and demographic, we have more seniors and single people.”
The new centre includes a 2,500 sq. ft hall, fireside lounge, accessible washrooms and a large kitchen.
“We’ve got a gathering place, we’ve got a place seniors can enjoy, toddlers can gather in a safe and accessible way. It’s a welcome space to get to know our neighbours and get to do programs like cooking and more,” said Knottwood Community League president Thomas Shaw.
With money raised by the community league and with support from the city and other levels of government, the project took 10 months to construct.
“This is a community lead initiative, this would not have happened without people like Tom Shaw. They mobilized the community, they mobilized the resources, they mobilized the funding and brought the province and federal government together,” Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.
“I think a lot of leagues are looking at Knottwood with envy, and I think will really look at the model and think about how we can bring leagues together to talk about this. Aging infrastructure is a concern of ours,” Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues executive director Laura Cunningham-Shpeley added.
That’s a concern the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues said it’s working on.
“We’re working with the City of Edmonton to sort out how we can not only understand what are the needs of the infrastructure process but how we can leverage and find other ways to find money and grants,” Cunningham-Shpeley said.
And while other communities look to improve their centres, Knottwood is looking forward to finally making use of its new centre.
“We needed something that’s accessible for everyone, we needed something that’s close, a lot of people in the community either don’t have cars or they don’t have the money to go downtown,” Kaufman said. “This is going to be a big help for getting all those people together and staying connected and staying stronger in the future.”
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