Connor Park has been recommended as the site for the new Halfmoon Bay community hall project.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors voted to switch the project location from Coopers Green park at March 9 committee meeting. The committee also recommended that a staff report on the possible retention of the existing Coopers Green Hall and how that could be managed in the future be prepared. Both decisions require board support to be finalized. The two items are slated to go before the board on March 23.
The first meeting recommendation on the matter, to continue to plan for the new facility near the existing Coopers Green hall was defeated. Voting by rural directors saw Area B director Justine Gabias and Area A director Leonard Lee in favour and directors for Area D Kelly Backs, Area E Donna McMahon and the alternate director for Area F, Ian Winn, opposed.
Staff suggested the alternate location of Connor Park be considered for the $4.5 million hall replacement project after the plans to build near the existing Coopers Green hall, approved in May 2022, were halted two months later due to geotechnical and flood plain issues.
In late 2022, the SCRD conducted information outreach on the situation and launched a “community check in” survey to gauge community views on the preferred new hall locations. Connor Park was the survey’s second most popular location, preferred by 35 per cent of respondents. That highest level of respondent support, 39 per cent, favoured keeping the hall in the lower Coopers Green park. That option also required $85,000 of 2023 tax revenue be spent on additional studies with no guarantee on what those investigations would recommend about building on that site.
At the meeting, McMahon suggested a third option, abandoning the project, which did not proceed to a committee to vote. She called into question the logic of building the facility based on having a grant for less that half the projected construction costs, when recent SCRD’s experiences with tendering have shown construction bids coming in two to three times higher than cost estimates. The viability of a hall at the Connor Park location and the ongoing impact of maintenance costs at existing and new facilities were additional concerns she raised.
“As a representative of the taxpayers, I don’t see us being able to take on more.. we represent all taxpayers not just those who want this hall," McMahon stated.
At the close of the meeting, two representatives of the Halfmoon Bay Community Association addressed the committee. Director Don Cunliffe, speaking as a resident of the area, expressed “frustration and disappointment”, on what occurred. President Linda McMahon said the association’s executive would await the SCRD board decision and then work with residents, the area director and regional district staff to see the project proceed in a way that is “as palatable as possible for all concerned”.
For the follow up report, SCRD staff will contact federal government representatives to see if the requirement to demolish the old hall can be removed from the agreement that provides $2 million to the project. The committee also asked that staff look into how partnerships with community groups may be able to help manage future operations of this and other SCRD owned community hall facilities.