View Royal is just days away from having a brand-new community centre courtesy of the Victoria Highland Games Association.
After a year and a half of work, the association is set to officially open its Craigflower Community and Performing Arts Centre, next door to the historic Craigflower Manor, on Thursday (Jan. 19). The new centre will be put to use right away, as the association will hold its first-ever Robbie Burns dinner on the 21st, which sold-out in days.
“We are just getting to the finishing touches on the building now,” said association president Jim Maxwell. “We are very pleased with it. When you get a design from an architect, you think it is spectacular, then you go through a year and a half building it, and today I can say it looks exactly like the designs. All the groups who have come through looking to book it for their activities are very pleased with it too.”
Maxwell said the project has gone relatively smoothly despite supply chain struggles which forced the opening to be delayed from its original fall estimate. Some landscaping and electrical work will continue over the spring and summer.
Anticipation for its opening seems to have led to a fair amount of pent-up demand for the space, as Maxwell said six weddings over the next two years have already been booked, and several local organizations have made plans to host regular meetings there.
Making the space available for all members of the community was a primary goal for the project, with it serving as a hub and permanent fixture for the association taking on a secondary, though no less important, role.
“For the Scottish/Celtic side of it, it is a solid home base for us to promote our mandate out of. It gives us the opportunity to host a lot more events and build that culture and heritage in the community,” said Maxwell. “We are going to be starting a youth pipe band here, for example. It’s sort of an older persons activity right now, and we think with our new venue we will be able to promote that bit of culture more widely.”
The 10,000-square-foot, $4.37-million building features a large common area with a professional-grade sprung dance floor, plenty of washrooms, a bar, greenroom, meeting room, storage spaces and an outdoor amphitheatre. A kitchen is in the plans, but won’t be operational immediately due to supply issues with the cooking appliances.
The design is specially chosen by the association to reflect historical Scottish architecture. The entire structure is a single-story circle featuring massive exposed wood beams arranged similarly to a Celtic knot in the centre of the building.
The exterior is to be clad in stone, with large windows facing the historic Craigflower Manor next door. Opposing windows offer views of the water, and the entire building is slightly sunk into the earth so as not to completely disrupt views of the manor from the street.
In the coming weeks, Maxwell said the association will be launching a brand-new website dedicated to the centre, which will allow community groups to learn more about what it offers and book it for events and meetings.