The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation has donated $300,000 to the Centrepoint social services complex being built by Sea to Sky Community Services (SSCS) and the United Church.
The donation was announced at the site of the future building, at the current United Church property on Fourth Avenue in Squamish, on June 17.
Centrepoint is a joint venture between SSCS and the United Church, a four-storey 15,000 sq.-ft. church, SSCS headquarters and offices, community centre and supported-housing complex.
The church has donated its large double lot to the project, which will cost an estimated $8.2 million in total and will be available for use by all residents in the Sea to Sky corridor.
"This is a great project that we want to support. We're always looking for ever-lasting projects and this most definitely is one," Dave Brownlie, president of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, told the 50 people who gathered for the announcement.
In an interview, Brownlie said that the project would benefit the grassroots on the community at a time when there is not enough funding from official sources.
The money will specifically go to regenerating the current church building, creating the new Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Learning and Community Hall. The hall will house two pre-schools for up to 32 children, a playground, a commercial kitchen, and a main hall area that can be used for community events.
"Sea to Sky Community Services does a lot of work in Whistler as well as in Squamish and Pemberton. Frankly, with the kids and the learning, that fits in with a lot of what the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation tries to do," Brownlie said.
Mei McCurdy, the executive director of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, said the Founder's Pass Program for 2012-2013 paid for the donation to SSCS. The Founder's Pass is the foundation's primary fundraiser, with 50 VIP annual ski passes sold for $5,500 each.
As founding funders of Centrepoint, McCurdy said they were, "proud and happy to be a part of it."
This is the largest single donation the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation has given to SSCS; in the past donations were more in the region of $25,000 to $40,000, she added.
Prior to the announcement, the future complex was mapped out in chalk along the parking area and grass, to show where future amenities would be located. SSCS staff stood at each amenity location with a copy of the floor plan and explained the need and use of each.
Chelsie Brubacher, SSCS's manager of Early Childhood Development Services, held the floor plan for the community hall and learning centre, which will benefit from the foundation's donation.
"It is so exciting for us to be able to have this, to have two pre-schools here. We have a waiting list until 2016, so the need is great. It will also allow us to be in a place where we are not paying high rents and (the hall) will bring in revenue," Brubacher said.
Of the larger Centrepoint project she said: "To have all this located in one building is going to be amazing. And to have it close to the Howe Sound Women's Centre (across the back lane) will be fantastic as we have a lot of the same clients."
Lois Wynne, the executive director of SSCS, said this donation was a chance to kick off the Capital Campaign for the project. The organization was looking to raise $3 million from the public, foundations, businesses and governments.
"Centrepoint is ambitious and it is so great to just see the chalk lines of where everything will go. Now we're on our way to realizing our goal, thanks to the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation," she said
Squamish Savings Credit Union has also donated $250,000 to Centrepoint, bringing the total so far to $550,000, said Wynne.
"And hopefully in two years we will have this wonderful building," Wynne said in an interview.
Owen Carney, owner of Carney's Waste Systems, and his wife Anne, a past president of SSCS, are co-chairing the team to fundraise for the project.
For more information on Sea to Sky Community Services and fundraising for the project, visit www.sscs.ca.