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We're in for a big, Bold surprise come opening day

They should have windows in every room, every over-sized recreation area, every colour-matched alcove, and even in the steam rooms (that's right it has steam rooms). The Bold Center needs windows everywhere.

They should have windows in every room, every over-sized recreation area, every colour-matched alcove, and even in the steam rooms (that's right it has steam rooms).

The Bold Center needs windows everywhere. Not because there aren't enough already, or because there's a need for more natural light — but because without a way to look out and see the Lac La Biche landscape, anyone inside won't believe such a building is in this rural northern Alberta community.

Taking my first tour of the centre last week, I was simply blown away. It's size is almost impossible to explain. It's like trying to describe a Vegas hotel to someone who's never been out of their rural community.

The childcare room, multi-purpose room, community hall, concession space, the huge arenas, and hangar-like gymnasiums are all taking shape. Walking into the main arena, one of two NHL-sized rinks overlooked by a wave of seats, is like going into the current Centennial Arena and being shrunk to half your size as the building around you grows twice as big. From a third-person perspective looking down from above, the tour group must have looked characters from Honey I Shrunk the Kids winding their way through some grandiose, over-sized scene.

Is it too big?

Yes it is. Way too big …And how great it is that we have it in our community. (Don't tell anyone, but it almost feels too good for us.)

With a little more than a month to go until the builders hand over the keys to Lac La Biche County staffers, crews are in high-activity throughout the building. Floors are being fitted, overhead lights are being wired, bathroom walls are being tiled, and arena seats are being installed. Also taking shape is the planning for the new library to be added to the northeast side of the building.

Bold Center fundraising co-ordinator Jane Palmer says that about $4 million has been raised for the $50 million project through corporate and private donations and sponsorships. She also says the construction timeline is on schedule, and that new-hire Bold Center staff will probably take a month to familiarize themselves with the building before the general public gets to gaze in wonder at Lac La Biche County's biggest capital expense in history.

Although the exact opening date has yet to be released, Palmer said there will be a large, family-oriented New Year's Eve party at the facility, and the parties will continue into the new year with a grand opening hockey game that will see classic NHL alums and some local talent hit the Bold

Center ice.

Was I completely smitten with the building? Yes.

Will I be one of the first to sign up for a $950 annual pass for my whole family? Yes.

Is it going to open and magically remove the years of near continuous scrutiny and opposition from a convenyor belt of 'Debbie Downers? Absolutely not.

In fact, there will be massive problems, huge growing pains and epic fix-ups needed. But that's par for the course for such a massive undertaking. We can't get down on this place. And after a first glance, it's hard to see how anyone could simply turn their backs on it. This place needs to be embraced by the community, and it will. In fact, the building will envelope anyone who goes into it, physically and mentally.

Enjoy your visits to the Bold Center, and remember to get a window seat.

You won't believe how lucky we are to have this massive, costly, politically-charged, and truly magnificent building.