Following the Jan. 28 public feedback on plans to replace the community hall in Halfmoon Bay, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors have again requested more information about the proposed $3.1-million project.
At the Feb. 18 planning and community development committee meeting, directors largely praised the public engagement event, but raised and repeated their lingering concerns.
Lori Pratt, director for Halfmoon Bay and SCRD board chair, said she is concerned about the hall being deemed not appropriate for post-disaster use, although she noted an architect’s view of post-disaster is different from community members’. Pratt also echoed requests from board members for more information about the operating plan and the life expectancy of the building.
“Budget is a big concern. As we know, the majority of the cost of any asset is through the lifetime of the asset. It is not in the initial capital outlay,” Pratt said.
Although the Halfmoon Bay Community Association (HBCoA) has offered to be responsible for the operations of the hall and has raised $344,000 in funds for the project, Sechelt director Darnelda Siegers expressed a concern that the operations would fall back to the SCRD if the association pulled out in the future.
Pratt stressed her desire for board members to be conscious of the long-term impacts of the project, and acknowledged the First Nations’ approach of considering the impacts on the next seven generations.
“When we’re putting assets in, we need to make sure that we are as prudent as possible and thinking about where we are right now, but also into the future and what impact, what footprint we’re leaving on the land as we’re moving forward,” Pratt said.
In response to a question about the boat ramp and parking at the site, general manager of planning and community development Ian Hall said, “There’s further work on just about every aspect of the project.”
Hall also noted that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has already granted permission to expand parking at the Coopers Green Hall site, although details will not be decided until the project proceeds.
The public engagement event drew feedback from 169 people, 85 per cent of whom are Halfmoon Bay residents. The summary of the public feedback provided to the committee showed the majority of respondents – 90 per cent – were in support of the project, though there were strong opinions for and against it. Some respondents expressed frustration that it was not proceeding as designed.
Siegers raised a concern that the majority of responses came from residents of Halfmoon Bay, pointing out that all of the electoral areas on the Sunshine Coast could be impacted by the finances of the project.
For Roberts Creek director Andreas Tize, the biggest concern was about flood level rise. Donna McMahon, director for Elphinstone, said she can’t support any building that does not meet zero emissions standards. She also said that of the other five existing community halls in the regional district, the footprint of the proposed Coopers Green Hall would be the largest by nearly three times the size of the current biggest hall. She questioned what needs the SCRD is aiming to meet with the build, whether they’re local to Halfmoon Bay or regional.
The committee asked staff to report more information on building emissions, life expectancy, an operating plan, parking, the boat ramp, or what next steps to address these concerns would be. McMahon also requested information on next steps for expanding policy on community halls in the recreation master plan.
The requested information is not likely to be ready for the committee before Round 2 of the budget deliberation process on March 4 and 5, when the project is due to be considered.
The replacement project was approved last summer for a joint federal-provincial grant that would cover 73 per cent of the project to a maximum of about $2 million.