The Sunshine Coast Regional District is going forward with planning a community hall at Connor Park, but board members had a number of questions on how the $4.5 million project will proceed that still need answers.
The move to Connor Park instead of Coopers Green Park for the Halfmoon Bay community hall project was endorsed following a brief discussion at the March 23 SCRD board meeting.
Given that the new site has not been looked at in detail or discussed with area residents, director for the Halfmoon Bay area Justine Gabias asked staff what would happen if challenges with the property or community opposition to the new location were encountered.
Area E director Donna McMahon asked for more details on project financing. “There’s a lot of questions in the community about the funds raised for the project and whether we can negotiate not demolishing the old hall,” she stated.
Updates for the community and board
In response to both, director of community services Shelley Gagnon stated that staff “have a lot of work to do” following the board’s direction on the new location. She explained that a meeting has been tentatively booked with the Halfmoon Bay Community Association (HBCA) as a starting point and that staff’s intent is to keep the community and the board “engaged and informed” as the project progresses.
She said that staff intend to explore options related to park enhancements that could happen at Coopers Green in conjunction with the new hall project with the HBCA. Those may open opportunities to retain financial contributions from donors who indicated they wanted their contributions used specifically at that park location, she stated.
A staff report considered by the directors at the March 9 committee meeting (which resulted in the recommended location change) stated that federal government grant funds and approved debt funding are restricted to the replacement of the hall. “The remaining sources of funding, the Community Works Funding or Gas Tax, donations from the HMBCA and its members, and various community contributions from independent power producers amount to approximately $1 million which would be allocated to either the hall or park enhancements as required,” it noted.
That report identified the next steps for the project will be to undertake a comprehensive site investigation and create a hall design to suit a Connor Park location. That design will require approval from the Agricultural Land Commission as that park is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
An estimated timeline for the new facility provided by staff indicated that the site review work could be completed by the end of this year. Structure design revisions would follow, anticipated to be done in time to move forward with the required permits by mid-2024. In the timing scenario presented, it was outlined that should the project be able to avoid unforeseen delays, such as archaeological or supply chain issues, construction could begin in the latter half of 2024 and be completed in about 24 months.
As for the future of Coopers Green hall, staff have been asked by the board to explore options to retain that facility. In the earlier report, staff advised the board that demolition of the hall is a condition of the $2.1 million federal grant agreement for the new facility.