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Halfmoon Bay hall project back before the SCRD

Coopers Green or Connor Park? A new community hall location for Halfmoon Bay is up for debate at a Sunshine Coast Regional District committee meeting on March 9.
Coopers Green Hall in Halfmoon Bay is slated for replacement, but where its replacement will be is yet to be determined.

Coopers Green or Connor Park? A new community hall location for Halfmoon Bay is up for debate at a Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) committee meeting on March 9, with the results from a public survey part of a staff report on the meeting’s agenda.

President of the Halfmoon Bay community association Linda McMahon told Coast Reporter that their group has let its 240 members know about the discussions and has also posted alerts on its social media channels. She said numerous area residents have let her know they plan to attend the meeting to hear the debate in person.

Under discussion since 2014, a new facility to replace Coopers Green Hall was approved with a $3.1 million budget by the SCRD board in July 2021. The budget was increased in May 2022 to $4.5 million. Two months later, staff reported on site geotechnical and flood risk concerns which put plans to proceed on hold and promoted the SRCD to look at alternate sites.

Survey says….

The SCRD’s online “community check in” survey on location options for the hall showed 39 per cent of respondents in favour of more detailed site study in hopes of building at or near the current Coopers Green Hall site.

Moving the hall project to Connor Park location while still paying for some improvements to Coopers Green Park was the first choice of 34 per cent of those who replied.

Just over 25 per cent of survey respondents supported an upper Coopers Green Park location for the facility. That option was not included in the staff report’s recommendations. Four per cent of survey takers indicated they supported any of those three options.

The “community check in” conducted over last December and January elicited 674 responses. Halfmoon Bay was identified as the place of residence for 85 per cent or 573 respondents. That area has an estimated population of just under 3000.

The choices

To consider proceeding with construction near the current hall site, the report states spending $85,000 on more detailed flood hazard study is required. Those costs would be above the project budget and would need board approval to be covered from this year’s taxation on properties in all SCRD rural areas. The estimated tax impact would be 65 cents per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Even with that work done, it is unknown if building within an acceptable level of flood risk can be realized at that site or what that would mean for the hall’s size and design.

The report states there are no new financial implications for the Connor Park option. To proceed there would require site investigation and hall plan redesign. As that location is within the Agricultural Land Reserve the project would require support from the Agricultural Land Commission. Staff’s proposal at that site is for a hall project costing $3.5 million with the remaining budget of about $707,000 allocated to improvements at Coopers Green Park.

With the option of building outside of the Coopers Green park, staff noted that some donors to the community association’s fundraising efforts for the project may want their contributions returned.

Budgets and timing

Approximately $4.28 million remains available in the project budget the report states. The budget includes a $2.013 million Investing in Canada infrastructure program (ICIP) grant, community association fundraising of a minimum of $345,000 and $1.47 million in long term debt. That debt would be repaid by taxpayers in all rural SCRD areas.

The deadline to spend the ICIP grant is March, 2025. Staff indicated they have been advised that a one year completion date extension is likely and that further extension opportunities may be announced.

If a decision to proceed with the project is made by April, the staff estimated it will take 50 months to construct a hall, bringing the estimated completion date to November, 2026. That estimate assumes the project does not encounter challenges with archaeological findings, supply chain issues or other delays. It also would require “strategies to expedite the construction process and potentially manage what continues to be a volatile market” the report states.

Both new hall site options recommended in the report require renewed permits, site archaeological assessment, and building designs. Operating costs are unknown at this time.

The ICIP grant agreement requires that current Coopers Green Hall be demolished