Thoughts Out Loud

My family is not involved in the arts and doesn’t use the library. How will this Centre benefit me?

The Centre will:

  • host concerts, weddings, graduation ceremonies, school Christmas concerts, Remembrance Day celebrations, business conferences, dance festivals, and dinner theatres;
  • host outdoor events and summer camps;
  • provide a safe place for youth to meet to complete school projects;
  • provide a quiet and relaxing space to have coffee and read the newspaper;
  • be a community gathering place;
  • provide other educational opportunities.

It will have a general benefit for all residents as it will attract professionals and new industry to the community (doctors, tradespersons, engineers, lawyers, teachers, accountants).

Will there be a savings for my family?

Although there may be a tax increase, many of the activities that will take place at the Centre are ones that families from Whitecourt would normally access in Edmonton or other communities. By having the Centre in the community, families will realize more savings from less travel costs than the increase in taxation. For example, for a couple to attend a concert in Edmonton it would cost approximately $500 and to attend a similar concert in Whitecourt would be $150, for a cost savings of $350; or for a child to attend a dance festival in Edmonton it would be $450 compared to $30 in Whitecourt. It will not only provide an overall savings, but it will now make it attainable for many families who have not had the means to go to Edmonton to enjoy the same experiences in their own community.

What was the tax increase predicted for the Allan & Jean Millar Centre?

It was 11.6%; however, it assisted in generating new growth in the community that a tax increase was not required. The Allan & Jean Millar Centre debenture will be paid off in 2022. The projected tax increase for the Culture & Events Centre project is estimated to be 4.67%.

Is the Centre designed to support future growth?

Yes, it is and there is opportunity to expand portions of it in the future if required.

Will this facility showcase local artists?

It will. It will be inclusive and provide the opportunity for local artists to showcase their art and talents in a professional facility.

How will the construction benefit local businesses?

Local trades will be utilized for portions of the project. Some of the materials will be purchased in the community. Crews not from our community that are working on the project will stay in the community, eat at restaurants, stay in hotels or rentals or buy houses, and purchase items in our community etc. Approximately, 5%-10% of the project cost will be spent in our community during construction.

Have residents been consulted throughout the project?

Yes, they have. They have been surveyed, they have provided input through open houses, some have been interviewed and all arts, culture and service groups have had the opportunity to provide input into the design. Please see the History tab for more detail.

Why not just expand the library and town office?

Both have accessibility issues that would not be able to be rectified. Building up is not possible at either building, and there is no room for a bigger footprint on the sites. The Town Office was built in 1967 when the population was 2,500 and now it is at 10,000. It has been renovated and retrofitted many times for different uses. It is more cost effective to build new than to renovate.

Why build together?

There are both capital and operational cost savings. Shared space has created a smaller footprint. When there is a smaller footprint, construction and operational costs both go down.

You mentioned that the impact on taxation was calculated without taking new growth into consideration, can you explain this?

For example, when the Allan & Jean Millar Centre was built, a tax increase was proposed; however, while it was under construction growth occurred in the community (new projects can stimulate growth as it attracts residents and industry to the community, they can be economic drivers) and a tax increase was not required to support it. When there is growth, there is new assessment; so more residents and businesses to share in the cost, which makes the mill rate lower. The economy is slowly picking up and this project will give it some time as the building will not be operational until 2025. The proposed tax increase will not be right away. It will be incremental starting in 2023 up until 2025.

What type of economic benefit will the Culture & Events Centre have on the community?

From hosting one dance festival alone, it is estimated that it will have a benefit of $750,000 in audience spending at local businesses. Hosting three festivals in a year equates to $2,250,000 in audience spending at local businesses. This is just dance alone. This does not take into account concerts, oil & gas trade shows, ballets, musicals, music festivals, dinner theatres, workshops, conferences, symphony, weddings and all other events taking place at the Centre.

How many parking stalls are proposed for the Centre?

246 stalls are proposed in front/ along east side of the building. 96 stall are proposed behind the building along the new 50th Street access, and an additional 173 stalls are in Rotary Park for overflow parking. This compares to the Allan & Jean Millar Centre with 102 stalls.

Why 600 seats? Will we be able to fill a 600 seat theatre?

The Performing Arts Society has been offering concerts in the community for several years, and the majority of the shows have had attendance ranging from 900-1500. Other theatres in the province have recommended a 600 theatre for operational efficiencies. Two theatres recently built were too small for their communities the day they opened their doors. This theatre will support growth.

Will we be able to attract acts to Whitecourt?

We will be able to join in on other Alberta circuits that theatres in Alberta are part of. We are already a member of the Alberta Touring Alliance. We have already been able to attract some ‘A Class’ Performers, such as Terri Clarke. However, some A Class Performers have turned down our offers due to not having a suitable venue for them to perform in or have accepted our offers but we were not able to meet the sound and lighting obligations of their riders due to not having a fixed, equipped theatre.

What spaces will be available for local art instructors to use?

The multipurpose rooms off the theatre, the multi-purpose rooms off the library, the meeting rooms, green rooms and some of the areas in the basement of the theatre.

When would construction commence and when would the Centre be operational?

Construction would commence in 2022 and the Centre would be operational in 2025.

When do we need a third arena or fire hall?

Both of these facilities are currently outside the 20-year window on the 20-year capital plan based on growth.

Can current infrastructure be adapted to meet the needs of a Culture & Events Centre?

A facility review and needs assessment was completed. It was identified that existing infrastructure was not suitable for the need and that existing infrastructure could not be retrofitted to meet the need.

Can the design plans for electrical, HVAC and plumbing be shared?

These are not available yet, but will be finalized during the next step of the project which is construction drawings, if the project moves forward.

Have the operating costs been updated?

Yes, they were updated at the end of 2021 and the operating deficit is comparable with other comparable facilities, the business plan will continue to be adjusted until the Centre is operational in 2025. The operating deficit of similar facilities has been consistent between 2016 and 2020, with little fluctuation. The powerpoint presentation on the website has more details on the operating deficit.

Does the $59.5 million project cost include furniture and equipment, contingency and escalation?

Yes it does.

The hotel industry in Whitecourt has taken a series of massive hits in the recent years. I firmly believe that an investment in our community, like this, will be a driver for so many local businesses. It will also make Whitecourt a hub for communities around us to come and enjoy events that they would normally travel to Edmonton for. You have the support of businesses in the community. It would be fantastic to see the Town move forward with the project to support these businesses in return.

– James Clouthier,

Area General Manager

Holloway Lodging Ltd./ Days Inn & Suites


The Public Committee completed a public education campaign in February 2022, which included the development of this website. It remains active to ensure the communities have current information on the proposed project.

© Culture & Events Centre 2022.