During last night's committee-of-the-whole meeting, town councillors indicated they favour exploring ways to better utilize The Clubhouse, located on the Cochrane Ranche historic site, for community-oriented activities.

Mitchell Hamm, community services director, presented council with some leasing options for the under-utilized space with the idea of offering a public competition process for community service-oriented businesses or nonprofit groups. The potential for a revenue stream was part of the presentation, perhaps in the tens of thousands each year, but that focus diminished as discussions evolved.

"The space is suitable to offer a limited range of community programming, expanding the opportunity for local community groups and businesses to use the space meets our commitment to bringing people together physically and socially," states Hamm's presentation. "Increasing the use of The Clubhouse would support and enhance community events and promote neighborhood connections and a sense of place."

It was proposed The Clubhouse be leased from September to June on weekdays for a term of three to five years. In July and August, a partnership would be created with an existing organization for summer programming. Weekends would continue to be made available for rental.

The topic triggered a weaving discussion on the rebuilding of the community services department, now underway after being discarded by the town in 2020.  Councillor Tara McFadden, who chairs the parks and recreation committee, believes council needs to have a more deliberate discussion on that topic.

"I really feel that rebuilding that, deliberating identifying what our priorities are, is a necessary good for our community, is a necessary service level. It's not about building competition for our businesses, but about filling in the gaps where the businesses don't compete for those services. I think it's a conversation we need to have a little more deliberately than as an aside to this project."

The Clubhouse was originally the residence of the Gilberts, the last family to ranch the property. The Cochrane RancheHouse Conference Centre says it was originally a Sears Catalogue Home that was shipped by boxcar to be assembled here.

According to "More Big Hill Country," published by the Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society, it became the property of the Alberta Government in 1972 when it purchased the Cochrane Ranche site.

Jumping forward to the current day, the town extensively renovated the building in 2017 and renamed it The Clubhouse.

Insight from the discussion will be used in creating a proposal that will be brought back at a future council meeting.