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Climate change risks mean new Coopers Green hall site might move

Proposed site for the new Coopers Green hall may not be suitable geotechnically, due to changing building industry standards related to climate change.
Coopers Green design
Preliminary designs of the Coopers Green replacement hall by Principle Architecture.

The proposed site for the new Coopers Green hall may not be suitable geotechnically, due to changing building industry standards related to climate change. 

In a verbal report on an “emerging issue” at the July 14 Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) committee of the whole meeting, staff alerted elected officials that project design contractors have indicated a need to either increase the elevation of the building, re-position it within Coopers Green park or seek a new site.

In a press release, dated July 14, the SCRD stated “Preliminary information from the Geotechnical Engineering consultant is now indicating that in order to mitigate the risk of oceanic flooding, the building design would need to be significantly altered. This would include raising the hall above the current design elevation by approximately 1.5 meters. Although this change would mitigate the hazard posed by future oceanic flood events, the current design of the building would need to be significantly altered and would likely add a considerable cost to the $4.5 million budget for this project.”

“While it is possible to deviate from the recommendations of the Geotechnical Engineer, this would require additional construction elements such as a more robust seawall and commit the SCRD to stringent operational activities necessary to ensure the maintenance of flood and erosion mitigation structures. It would also potentially expose the SCRD to significant future liability and insurance complications.”

At the meeting, community services manager Shelley Gagnon noted that shifting the building on the park site to increase the setback from the ocean could be possible but would require removal of mature trees.

Halfmoon Bay area director Lori Pratt was the first committee member to comment on the staff presentation. "This is not the information anyone wanted to hear, but better to know now than when we put a shovel in the ground,” she said.

Next steps

“It is not staff’s intent to sit back and wait,” Gagnon told the committee. She explained that pending the receipt of written reports from the project’s architectural and geotechnical teams, SCRD staff would be reaching out to discuss possible alternatives with groups involved, including the federal government which has approved grant funding for the project and the Halfmoon Bay Community Association, who are involved in fundraising for the new hall.

“In the coming months, the SCRD will set out a plan to re-engage with the community on the future of a community space in Halfmoon Bay, with a focus on where the best location for this space may be,” the press release states.

Gagnon said that an update to the SCRD Board would be provided in September.

Community association reaction

President of the Halfmoon Bay Community Association, Linda McMahon issued a statement on the situation, stating "due to today's announcement, fundraising has been temporarily suspended.  We apologize for the lack of information regarding the fundraising aspect of this set-back.  We will be communicating with our donors as soon as possible, once further details are available."