“A lot of work to do” for community hall project at Connor Park

“A lot of work to do” for community hall project at Connor Park

Councilors asked for clarification on how the modified $4.5 million project will unfold.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District is moving forward with plans for a community hall at Connor Park, but councilors had a number of questions about how the $4.5 million project will proceed that still need answers.

The move to Connor Park instead of Coopers Green Park for the Halfmoon Bay community hall project was endorsed after a brief discussion at the March 23 SCRD board meeting.

Since the new premises had not been looked at in detail or discussed with residents of the area, Halfmoon Bay area director Justine Gabias asked staff what would happen if challenges with the property or community opposition to the new location were encountered.

Area E Director Donna McMahon asked for more details on project funding. “There are many questions in the community about the funds collected for the project and whether we can negotiate not to demolish the old hall,” she said.

Updates for the community and board

In response to both, Shelley Gagnon, director of community services, said that staff “have a lot of work to do” according to the board’s directive about the new location. She explained that a preliminary meeting with the Halfmoon Bay Community Association (HBCA) has been discussed as a starting point and that staff’s intention is to keep the community and the board “involved and informed” as the project progresses.

She stated that staff intends to explore options related to park improvements that could occur at Coopers Green in conjunction with the new hall project with the HBCA. This may provide opportunities to retain financial contributions from donors who have indicated that they want their contributions used specifically at that park location, she said.

A staff report considered by the directors at the March 9 committee meeting (which led to the recommended location change) stated that federal government grant funds and approved debt financing were limited to replacing the hall. “The remaining sources of funding, the Community Works funding or Gas Tax, donations from the HMBCA and its members, and various community contributions from independent power producers total approximately $1 million which will be allocated to either the hall or park improvements as needed,” it noted .

That report identified that the next steps for the project would be to undertake a comprehensive site investigation and create a hall design suitable for a Connor Park location. That design would require approval from the Agricultural Land Commission as that park is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

An estimated timeline for the new facility provided by staff indicated that the site review could be completed by the end of this year. Structural design reviews will follow, which are expected to be done in time to move forward with the required permits by mid-2024. In the timing scenario presented, it was outlined that should the project avoid unforeseen delays, such as archaeological or supply chain issues, construction in the latter half of 2024 could start and be completed in about 24 months.

Regarding the future of Coopers Green Hall, staff were asked by the board to explore options to retain that facility. In the earlier report, staff informed the council that the demolition of the hall is a condition of the $2.1 million federal grant agreement for the new facility.

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