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Halfmoon Bay community hall location yet to be confirmed

Coasters will be able to weigh in again on whether the Halfmoon Bay community hall project should be kept at Coopers Green or moved to Connor Park.
Coopers Green rendering
Preliminary designs of the Coopers Green replacement hall unveiled at an open house on March 15, 2018.


Coasters will be able to weigh in again on whether the Halfmoon Bay community hall project should be kept at Coopers Green or moved to Connor Park.

In a Dec. 20 press release Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) announced the launch of a an online survey on the matter. Paper copies of that document are also available at the SCRD's Field Road office, the Gibsons and Area Community Centre, as well as the Sechelt and Pender Aquatic Centres. 

Communications manager Aidan Buckley indicated in the release that the survey will run from Dec. 20 until Jan. 20, 2023.  He also noted that on the project's webpage  residents "can dig deeper into the history of the project and see all reports associated with the project from the past few years".

While not a statistically valid survey process, the survey is to be a “check-in” on community views. Results will then be presented to elected officials for consideration during the first quarter of the new year.

What sites are options?

At an SCRD electoral services committee meeting on Dec. 15, a re-worked public survey was recommended. Respondents are to be asked their views on three potential hall location options, rather than only upper Coopers Green or Connor Park locations, as was detailed in a staff report. The public will also be asked if they prefer rebuilding on the lower portion of Coopers Green, at or near the existing hall site. Included with that alternatives will be links to background reports that explain how that choice will require further study to determine if that is a viable option.

Issues related to sea level rise and storm flooding concerns, brought forward to elected officials in October of this year halted progress on the SCRD’s plan to build at the site of the existing hall. Staff estimated at the meeting that undertaking additional site review would cost in the $80,000 range. They noted that work could confirm that the site is unsuitable to build on.

A representative of the Halfmoon Bay Community Association (HBCA), Andy Cox-Jones was part of a delegation at the meeting asking the committee to have the survey content expanded. He said that to his knowledge the existing hall had not been flooded since it was constructed in 1983. Area F director Kate Stamford noted while that was a positive indication it was not a guarantee related to the future, given the impacts of climate change. To underline that point, she recounted that an early November storm impacted her Gambier Island area in ways that had never been experienced by current residents.

Another adjustment to the proposed survey will include expansion of the Connor Park alternative to include improvements such as washrooms or a stage at Coopers Green, should budget be available. At the meeting, community services manager Shelley Gagnon confirmed that no covenants restrict the SCRD from building the facility at Connor Park but that the site is subject to Agricultural Land Commission rules and that those will be addressed should that site be selected.

When asked for reaction to the decision on the survey, HBCA president Linda McMahon stated in an email that the “delegation was pleased with the outcome.” She said her board “will assist the SCRD in providing information regarding the survey to our members and residents.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the SCRD staff and board, to move this project forward.”

Process under way since 2017

While discussions with the SCRD on the need for a new community hall in the area date back to 2014, a community consultation process in 2017 supported building such a facility at Coopers Green. In 2018 a conceptual design for the project at that location was prepared and shared with the public. On May 19 of this year, the SCRD Board approved an expanded budget of up to $4.5 million for the hall replacement after additional design work was completed. Included in that are a $2.01 million federal grant and in the range of $345,000 in donations raised by the Halfmoon Bay Community Association. The remainder of the funding will come from SCRD reserves and taxation generated from rural areas in the regional district.

According to staff, about $220,000 has already been spent on planning and design work for the project.

The current agreement for the federal grant requires that funding be spent by March 2025. Staff advised the committee that a one-year extension to that deadline is being discussed and that additional extensions may be possible. Accessing the federal funds also requires that the existing Coopers Green Hall be demolished.