At a council meeting on January 9, the Municipal District of Bonnyville council decided to defer providing additional funding for the construction of a new art theatre by the Clayton Bellamy Foundation. The foundation’s ambitious project aims to build a 340-seat theatre within the premises of Bonnyville Centralized High School.
Initially, during the summer of 2023, the MD council had approved a maximum of $178,000 in matching funds for constructing the performing arts theatre through the Large Capital Project stream of the Community Action Grant Policy. However, unforeseen increases in construction costs resulted in the projects’ estimated cost soaring from $1.4 million to $2.4 million after the tender process.
Councilor Dana Swigart proposed using $100,000 in leftover funding from the MD capital projects list to support the foundation. However, CAO Al Hoggan clarified that retroactively using the 2023 capital budget to fund the 2024 budget was not feasible.
The council learned that funds had yet to be embarked on for the project in the 2024 Operating Budget. CAO Hoggan suggested that surplus funds from 2023, expected to be determined once the audited financial statements are complete in late March to mid-April, could be utilized. The exact surplus amount remained uncertain at this stage.
Despite recommendations from the administration to maintain funding at the previously approved level of $178,000, the council opted to defer a decision on additional funding until the spring. The council will revisit the matter once surplus funds from 2023 are confirmed.
In addition to the MD’s commitment of $178,000, generous contributions from various sponsors and organizations have supported the project. This includes donations from CRNRL, Strathcona Resources, the City of Cold Lake, the Fine Arts Society, and the Town of Bonnyville, which approved an additional $50,000 in funding on January 24, 2024.
Overall, the Clayton Bellamy Foundation has successfully raised $1.6 million to construct the art theatre, demonstrating significant community support for the initiative, Despite the delay in additional funding, the foundation remains committed to providing Lakeland youth with educational opportunities in the arts while enriching the region’s cultural landscape.