A love affair with what has been described as Granthams Landing’s “hall with a heart” was on full display Valentine’s Day morning.
Dozens of community members were joined by local politicians past and present, officials and government staff to celebrate the reopening of Granthams Hall.
“We waited so long for this hall to be opened, too long in the eyes of many people,” said Karen Careless, of the Granthams Hall steering committee.
The $525,000 restoration finished on time in eight months. Local construction company Summerhill Fine Homes replaced the foundation, and roof, including its trusses to create a cathedral hemlock interior ceiling, among many other upgrades and additions. A wheelchair ramp now flanks the refurbished exterior.
“I only wish the original people could see what they did,” said Careless, referring to the volunteers who constructed the building in 1931. “Mind you, they did a heck of a job for $2,000.”
The heritage property, donated to the United Church by Frederic Grantham, is located at the bottom of a steep slope on Church Road, and was transformed from a church into a community hall in 1943. The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) assumed ownership in 2009. Gradually, it fell into disrepair and by 2015, an engineering report found structural problems with its roof and foundation, forcing the SCRD to shut its doors.
“It was a very sad day when the hall closed,” said West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler in his speech at the reopening.
The same year it closed, the SCRD board committed to refurbishing it for an estimated $420,000. Half that amount was to be raised through grants and donations, and the other covered with gas tax funds.
But complications and disagreements at the board table about how the hall should be funded cropped up and efforts to secure grants, including from the federal government, delayed the process.
Careless, who also co-chaired the Granthams Landing Improvement District, fought for the SCRD to commit to funding repairs, as was promised when the government assumed control from the improvement district. “We want the agreement honoured and our hall functioning now,” she told directors in 2017.
At that time, Granthams community members, and former Area F director Ian Winn, lamented what they perceived as a failing by the SCRD to fulfill what Winn called a “duty of care” to maintain the hall.
Then, in 2019, with a letter of support from Squamish Nation, the SCRD was finally successful in securing a grant through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund to cover 50 per cent of the project, paving the way for the renovations. The rest of the money was raised by the community and a variety of other funding sources, including gas taxes, money from independent power projects and a community benefits fund. “It was a great, great group of people who came together and raised the money, and for that we’re very thankful,” Winn said at the reopening.
He said it was Careless who coined the phrase “hall with a heart,” during a planning meeting for the restorations. “It really resonated with me,” he said to the crowd gathered around the entrance, waiting eagerly to step inside. “It’s a good news story and that story is going to begin now with, ‘Welcome, I am Granthams Hall. I open my heart to you.’”
Moments later, Careless, who used the newly-built wheelchair ramp to access the entrance, helped cut the ribbon with SCRD chair Lori Pratt and Weiler.
– With files from Sean Eckford