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Blackfalds holds celebration for Abbey Centre grand opening

Excitement continues to build in community for new recreation facility
GRAND OPENING - Together Mayor Melodie Stol and Blackfalds resident Brock MacDougall

When the Abbey Centre first opened its doors to the public on March 31st, it was a cause for much celebration in Blackfalds.

Now that the facility is fully operational and a grand opening was held last weekend, there is even more cause to celebrate.

After cutting the ribbon to officially declare the facility open on May 24th, Mayor Melodie Stol said the day came with a strong feeling of accomplishment.

“It’s a very proud day. It’s a proud moment for our council, it’s a proud moment in Blackfalds’ history.”

Stol also commented on how the opening of such a multi-faceted recreation facility in Blackfalds shows how much the community has grown.

She said Blackfalds is a community that stands on its own merits and not just a bedroom community of Lacombe or Red Deer.

Member of Parliament Blaine Calkins agreed and commented on how the Abbey Centre is an example of how a community can pull together and create a facility to be proud of. He also said such facilities are a necessity for young, growing communities like Blackfalds.

“Albertans work hard and pay our share of taxes,” said Calkins.

“We also like to play hard when we get our time off. We need these kinds of facilities in our communities to match the expectations of the residents.”

Member of the Legislative Assembly Rod Fox was also like-minded.

“Blackfalds really does encapsulate the Alberta spirit,” said Fox.

“What we have here is a community that pulled together to build what they wanted and what they needed. That’s exactly what Albertans do, they don’t wait for something to be given to them, they go out and build it themselves.”

Carol Simpson, president of the Blackfalds Fieldhouse Society, reiterated Stol’s feelings that the grand opening imparted a sense of accomplishment to all those involved.

She said the Abbey Centre represented the completion of a goal set five years ago.

“There is a sense of finality to it,” said Simpson. She added that it was even somewhat hard to believe that goal had been reached. “It’s very surreal.”

For Simpson, the grand opening marked an end as well as a beginning. With the Abbey Centre complete, the Blackfalds Fieldhouse Society will be dissolving at the end of the month.

This combination of events made the opening an emotional event for Simpson.

She also said that the finished facility represented what she imagined it would when the project began as an idea five years ago.

“I had high expectations for us,” said Simpson. “We aimed high.”

She added she is proud of the community as a whole for seeing this project through. “I am proud of us,” said Simpson. “And when I say us I mean Blackfalds.”

Blackfalds celebrated the grand opening by offering free use of the facility over the weekend, a concert featuring Serena Ryder on Saturday evening and a fireworks spectacle to top things off Saturday night.

The opening also featured the first days the outdoor pool was able to be used as well as the unveiling of the new veteran memorial, constructed just outside the entrance of the Abbey Centre.