SUDBURY -- The next time you drive past the Alban Community Centre in French River, get a good look because things are about to change.

On Friday morning, the municipality, in conjunction with the provincial and federal governments, announced it is moving ahead with a $1.1 million revitalization of the community's hub.

"We are getting a $1.1 million grant to revitalize this beautiful community centre that's located in Alban," said Mayor Gisèle Pageau. "One of the things that we're going to be doing is redoing the floors, making it more accessible for people but more importantly, it'll serve as an emergency place in case of disasters."

French River has had its share of disasters, including forest fires in 2018 and flooding the following year.

"Which brought a lot of these things to the forefront in terms of preparing for and mitigating these disasters going forward," said CAO Marc Gagnon.

"So, yes, this is a great relief in terms of being able to provide our residents some assistance when they go through some hard times during these types of activities or events."

Needed upgrades

The building was in bad need of some upgrades. Gagnon had been working with senior levels of government to secure the funding.

"And realizing that small communities like ourselves need this type of assistance, it's much needed and very appreciated on our part," he said.

The community centre was first built by the citizens of Alban, volunteers who felt the village needed a place to gather back in 1980.

They are hopeful this project will breathe new life back into the building and keep it as a jewel of region for decades to come.

"It'll be a very new looking facility," said Pageau. "The outside will look quite different, of course the roof needs to get done, the inside will all be painted and retrofitted for proper sound."

Among the improvements, it'll get a new boiler, a new generator, a new kitchen and they plan on paving the parking lot.

The upgrades are slated to take three years from start to finish. In the meantime, the building will continue to be open for those who want or need it.

"It's nice to see what the citizens first started years and years ago, decades and decades ago, is going to continue and be better for everyone," said Pageau. "A place to go to and have some fun and do various activities and also give them a sense of security knowing that they have a safe place to go."