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Healthy Foundations Matter: Cultural Well-Being

Covid has taught us many things, including how much we love our culture! And we miss it, a lot. With various levels of restrictions put on us by the provincial and federal governments to keep us health and safe, our culture took a massive hit. We know it, we felt it and we want it back.

We’ve had time to reflect on what was provided and what we need to provide in the future. It likely has most of the same elements, but it has shifted. How we support our community groups, from the library to the Horizon stage to our sports teams, art, dance, music and more, the desire to be a more cultural and livelier city is there.

We often hear that Stony Plain has more culture- more murals, more musical events, more connection to their creative community. That is a fair point and whether it’s a criticism or not, it makes me pause. What are we doing to support culture and what are the next steps to ensure Spruce Grove is seen as a vibrant, progressive and talented community?

This is my lens for cultural well-being. As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. Cultural vitality– You support the arts in many forms and appreciate the talent and the job it brings to our community. You understand there is broad number of interests that makes up a strong cultural community and appreciate that it takes investment, both public and private, to ensure a thriving and successful community.
  2. Sense of belonging– You feel you belong here. There is a place for you and interests you align with. Whether it’s sports, recreations, arts, music, social events, festival, public markets, the library or something we haven’t discovered yet, that there is an opportunity to participate and add to the cultural flavour in the community.
  3. History and building a history- We are who we were, and we will be who we are now. Spruce Grove has a rich history including an Indigenous history that we haven’t really explored. You support learning this history including support for our existing archives, our societies who work to keep our history alive like the Agricultural Society and know that we work on creating history every day here in the city. You recognize those who contribute to making this place a little better than they found it. (archives, ag society, buildings, new buildings, public markets

Cultural well-being is the vitality that communities and individuals enjoy through: participation in recreation, creative and cultural activities; and the freedom to retain, interpret and express their arts, history, heritage and traditions.

https://mch.govt.nz/what-we-do/our-projects/cultural-well-being

We have many great pieces already that provide a strong foundation from which we can build. We have an amazing central library with a proposed second location in the civic centre, we have an art gallery (currently co-existing with the library), the Tri-Leisure Centre, the arenas,  Fuhr Sports park, public markets, a new privately owned baseball stadium under construction, Henry Singer Park, pickleball courts, the Horizon Stage, Columbus Park (currently under major renovation), Jubilee Park, the Spray parks and more. As things open up, more programming is happening. More events will be offered. But can we do more?

The proposed civic centre, in its design stage, will provide a much-needed piece for our cultural well-being. No longer just focused on sports and potential trade shows, the re-imagined civic centre will be a bustling centre for culture. Two arenas are part of the design, with one being the home of the Spruce Grove Saints, and one a full-time community rink. There will be a black box theatre that can house a few hundred people for performances, event hosting and more. There will be the second library location, a new art gallery, more meeting space and more community space.

Erin Stevenson standing in front of a colourful mural comprised of two hummingbirds

The possibilities of what can be done, what can be hosted there, is in its early stages, but it is exciting on what doors will open to us as we move into the final design stage and vote on making this centre a reality (the current council has only approved funding for the design of the building, the new council will make the decision on whether the building is actually built). The most recent council decision was in April, 2021 and included a presentation to council to proceed with the design phase.