Community consultation for the scope and location of the Coopers Green Hall has been approved at a Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) committee meeting, but the decision has drawn ire from the Halfmoon Bay Community Association, which called it “wrong and redundant.”
Directors OK’d moving ahead with a staff recommendation for a “wide-reaching” virtual public presentation and questionnaire to collect feedback and prioritize options, including: moving ahead with the project as-is, relocating the hall closer to Redrooffs Road but still within the park, relocating the hall to the Halfmoon Bay Elementary School and Connor Park area, reducing the project scope or renovating the hall instead of replacing it.
The public consultation would occur in coordination with Principle Architecture using existing funding.
Last July, the SCRD was awarded a maximum of $2 million in federal grant money to pay for up to 73 per cent of the project. Latest estimates put the cost of the hall at $3.1 million, with staff anticipating a need to borrow up to $800,000, to be paid back through taxation. That triggered directors’ request for consultation.
At the Nov. 12 planning committee meeting where the option for consultation was discussed, Roberts Creek director Andreas Tize asked “to what extent and how” people living in other areas of the Coast could participate, since other areas would potentially pay into the project.
Hall said it would be “made clear this is a community parks system project and asset and input from everyone is invited.”
The consultation would be done before February, so that directors could understand the feedback as they make decisions related to the hall at Round 2 budget deliberations.
Caution on the project was urged by Elphinstone director Donna McMahon, who along with Tize, raised concerns over sea level rise and the hall’s close proximity to the ocean and the increasing cost of materials, especially during the pandemic. Preliminary designs of the hall by Principle Architecture included raising the building by at least two feet to accommodate surges and a rise in water levels.
According to a Nov. 12 staff report, representatives from the Halfmoon Bay Community Association confirmed “interest and willingness to explore a cooperative arrangement for operating a future community hall.”
As of Nov. 6, the association had raised $309,200, with an additional $14,000 in pledges.
Chair and Halfmoon Bay director Lori Pratt said the association has received many in-kind donations for the hall. “The community is really interested in this project,” she said. “They do have an incredible amount of support,” but added she’s aware of concerns about increasing costs and contributions from other electoral areas in the function.
In 2014, the SCRD signed an MOU with the community association to work jointly towards building a new community hall at Coopers Green, with the group’s representative describing the current hall as falling “far short in meeting the continued needs of the community.” The association also placed $140,000 from the sale of a prior hall in trust with the SCRD for the project.
In a letter to the board following the decision, community association president Terry Knight said, “There is an underlying anger and outrage in the community that the project is being held up unnecessarily.”
In a separate letter to association members, Knight described the SCRD’s approach as “wrong and redundant,” since it duplicates work, including consultation, and “is not consistent” with the joint agreement between the SCRD and the association to replace the hall at Coopers Green Park.
– with files from John Gleeson