Grande Prairie gallery to be rebuilt
Grande Prairie, Alta., has decided not to tear down its Prairie Art Gallery, which was heavily damaged when the roof collapsed last year.
On Monday, city councillors voted to rescind a decision to demolish the building, a former schoolhouse that has a provincial heritage designation.
Instead, the city will look at repairing it so it can be used to house the art gallery and other civic services.
Prairie Art Gallery curator Robert Steven said he was pleased with the decision.
"Grande Prairie doesn't have a lot of historic buildings, and I think that the people who attended school there, especially, and of course their children and grandchildren, all see this as one of the very few legacies of the past that's left in Grande Prairie," he told CBC News.
The city voted in June to demolish the building, when it was believed the structure could not be preserved.
In March 2007, one of the central roof beams collapsed and part of the ceiling came down. The roof might have been weakened by snow load.
Most of the gallery's collection was saved in a massive salvage effort over the next few weeks.
This fall, an expert review of the damage showed the structure of the building was sound, and Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett sent a letter to the gallery board saying "conservation of the building remains the most favourable option" if it is affordable. The Prairie Gallery building committee appealed to the city to let it go forward with preservation.
"It's certainly treasured by the people who went to high school there," Steven said. "There has been an active group of alumni who are now, of course, seniors in the community who have been advocating ever since the collapse for its restoration."
That led council to overturn its decision to call in the wrecker.
The cost of the project won't be known until detailed design work is completed, Steven said.
He said he hopes much of the cost will be covered by insurance.
In the meantime, the gallery will exhibit in the Montrose Cultural Centre.