Saa Maa Centre talk heats up

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Photo: Garry Oker (left) and Jerry Lemmon (right) present the interim business plan for the Saa Maa Energy Interpretive Centre on Monday – Christine Rumleskie/Energeticcity.ca

 

By Christine Rumleskie

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The proposed Saa Maa Centre in Fort St. John is gaining support from City Council.

Earlier this year, Council voted to have a draft master plan, at a cost of $40,000, completed on the Energy Interpretive Centre.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, EWD Consulting’s Jerry Lemmon and Oker Consulting’s Garry Oker presented the plan, outlining everything from projected revenue to site plans.

Oker says the name Saa Maa means "edge of the sun" in the Beaver, or Athabascan, language.

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A task force was established, where stakeholders met three times to generate ideas on the project. Members of the task force ranged from local government officials to First Nation groups.

The proposed Saa Maa Centre will be the new home of the Fort St. John Visitor Information Centre, and also include information on the energy industry.

But, the estimated $17 million price tag had a few councilors worried. The City plans to donate $1 million to the project, and that money will come from federal and provincial grants.

Councilor Christensen suggested that a plan ‘B’ might be necessary, if not enough funds are raised to get the project off the ground.

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Jerry Lemmon says a back-up plan is certainly on the radar.

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Most of the money will be generated through vigorous fundraising initiatives, and through other grants.

In the end, Council voted unanimously, in principle, to support the interim business plan for the Saa Maa Centre. Councilors also voted to send Councilor Bruce Christensen to several interpretive centres across Western Canada and the U.S., before any decision is made on the project. Christensen’s travel expenses are expected to be around $5,000.

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