Slovenian Hall falls victim to city growth
An old school that Edmonton's Slovenian community turned into a cultural centre more than 40 years ago is facing the wrecking ball because of the city's plans to widen 66th Street.
The community hall on 167th Avenue has already been surrounded by coloured survey flags as crews prepare to connect 66th Street to Anthony Henday Drive.
The hall is classic Canadiana, with squeaky wooden floors, rows of banquet tables and animal heads mounted on the wall. Fran Brus calls it her second home.
"There's a lot of good memories," she said. "And as soon as this is gone, the memories will be gone — unless you look in a book.
"And the people will be gone, too. How much we're going to have contact with each other, I don't know. The hall makes a lot of difference."
The Slovenian community bought the building in 1967, and it was a busy place, Brus said: "Everyone would come this hall, it would be packed with grownups and kids."
But membership has been dwindling and is down to about 300.
The community asked the city about moving the hall to an adjacent piece of property the association has purchased and was told it can't be done.
'We're happy with this hall, we don't need nothing else, no fancier at all," Brus said. "But they said: 'No you can't have this, we can't move it because it's built out of blocks.'"
The community is now wrestling with the idea of how to raise money for a new hall. And Brus, a seven-time president of the Slovenian Association, isn't very optimistic.
"People are anxious to have a new hall, but how are we going to build [it] and how are we going to maintain it after? I don't know."
Council is expected to discuss final approval on expropriating the land next week.