Season of Construction

I thought the amount of construction in Fort McMurray before we left on our summer holidays was insane.  But since we've been back, the volume of activity is perfectly bananas, the progress of physical changes unparalleled in my entire time of living in one of the most dynamic communities in Canada.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to tour a recently completed construction project in Timberlea, an area of Fort McMurray north of the bridge and the downtown, the section of the urban centre with the highest population.

Holy Trinity High School is a beautiful facility that will be home to between six- and seven-hundred students this fall.  As the Grade 9 students go through the system, in just a couple of years the school will reach its maximum capacity of about eleven hundred.

I joined Mayor Melissa Blake, Counciller Mike Allen and Catholic School Board Chair Geraldine Carbery for a guided tour of the school by Superintendent Kim Jenkins, Centre for the Performing Arts Manager Loraine Humphrey and Principal Lucy Moore.

Our first stop was the new theatrical facility, a black box space with seating for about 325.  Set up in a proscenium style, the seats and risers stretch up to the door that leads to the technician's booth and the state of the art lighting and audio consoles.  Around the corner is the locked door that leads up to the grid that stretches from wall to wall in the room, maybe 30 feet off the floor.  This is where all the stage lights are hung on pipes above the audience.

"We will be teaching technical theatre students up here," said Technician Sean McIlveen.

Aircraft cables stretch the length and width of the room resting on steel beams that carry the load forming a kind of metal trampoline.  While there is a little bounce, you're able to easily walk over to any of the lighting instruments with ease and no cause for concern.  Even for a guy like me, who has developed a slight fear of heights, this was a comfortable and interesting environment.

With the requisite dressing rooms, loading dock and warm-up rooms, all equipped with motion sensor lights, the arts centre is ready to roll.

The tour continued through dance studios, gymnasiums, a piano lab and the incredible new library that features a whole lot of computers and not a lot of books.  This may be the new look of libraries as we dive head first into the digital age.

Standing in one of the science labs looking out at the activity outside, I was once again blown away with what I was seeing below.

Four giant light standards stood watch over a bright green artificial turf soccer field with a running track in the process of being completed.

"And the football field is going to go over there," said Councillor Allen, pointing to the hole in the ground to the right.

"Wow!" I exclaimed.

We wrapped up the tour and I made my way from the construction on Confederation Drive to the construction on Memorial Drive to the construction up in Gregoire.  Almost every section of town is under the knife as crews work against the clock and the inevitable arrival of colder weather and the dreaded white stuff that is mere weeks away.


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