Agricultural society seeks $325,000 to repair former Camilla School

A community group in Rivière Qui Barre is hoping the county council will donate $325,000 to help them turn the former Camilla School into a community center.

Sturgeon County Council voted 6-0 (Mayor Alanna Hnatiw absent) July 12 to defer the Société agricole de la Rivière Qui Barre’s request for $325,000 to their 2023 budget debate.

The company has shared facilities with Camilla School for about 40 years under a joint use agreement, Vice President Kory Perrott told the board (the company has an arena attached to the school). When Sturgeon Public built a new Camilla School, they agreed to hand over the old school’s gymnasium and four classrooms to the corporation.

Perrott said the company aims to turn the old school into a community center, but that would involve years of renovations. They have already invested around $300,000 in renovations to the building, including complete overhauls to its heating, electrical and lighting systems.

The old gymnasium is now ready for use, and a classroom is expected to open this fall, Perrott said. With $325,000 from the county, the company hopes to renovate the remaining classrooms and locker rooms, and expand the now child-friendly restrooms. The company plans to expand the center’s kitchen and redesign the exterior of the center in 2025-2026.

Perrott said the society’s arena is the center of the community and hosts sports, dances, weddings and other festivities by people from across the Edmonton area.

Com. Dan Derouin said it was great that the company was able to take over the old school buildings, as the buildings would otherwise have been demolished.

The board will debate the company’s request during the budget debate this fall 2023.

Lana T. Arthur