Former Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk appeared before council’s committee of the whole Tuesday to make a case for saving the former municipal hall at Armours Beach.
“It’s disheartening to witness our original town hall deteriorate to the point that the destruction of this vintage 1940s structure becomes the preferred option,” Janyk told the committee.
Following an open house last month, council decided to hold off on plans to demolish the structure, pending more public consultation. Parks director Wendy Gilbertson, however, reported the building was plagued by termites, lead, asbestos and other issues, and said restoring it was “virtually an impossibility.”
That assessment “needs to be confirmed,” Janyk said at the Feb. 11 meeting. “We believe the building is both precious and salvageable.”
Reading from a prepared statement, Janyk called the structure “one of our few heritage buildings in the town,” and urged council to “allow an opportunity for the neighbourhood to renovate the building.”
Under an incorporated society, he said, the building “could become a wonderfully restored community hall that could be rented and used by all, including user groups and individuals for many community and even private events. As with community halls elsewhere, it should be able to be self-supporting when completed.”
Council could help fund the effort, he said, by providing the $20,000 it would cost for demolition to the group as seed money, enabling the volunteers to pursue matching grants for heritage projects.
Janyk also presented a petition with the signatures of 33 people in the neighbourhood, which had been collected in December. While the petition was “a little dated” because of council’s subsequent decision, “it shows the number of people in our community who are interested in helping out,” he said.
Co-presenter James Graham thanked Gilbertson for hearing the concerns of beach users and reflecting that feedback in her last report to council. Despite the condition of the building, Graham said he was “still optimistic” it could be saved.
Mayor Wayne Rowe thanked Janyk and Graham for their presentation, noting that “nothing further is actually happening” with Armours Beach until after the public is again consulted.
If residents were willing to get behind the project as Janyk suggested, he added, council would at least consider the proposal.