By Nikki Jamieson
With the pool opening in time for summer, it looks like the next big project for Vauxhall is the Community Hall.
During a November meeting, Vauxhall town council received a letter written on behalf of the Vauxhall Ag-Society, along with a visit from ag-society treasurer Petra Klempnauer.
Addressed by Klempnauer and received by council on Nov. 1, in the letter she asks if the ag-society could offer any help with the upgrades to the Community Hall. She asked if the recreation board was involved in pre-planning work, a list of rec broad members and for the town to give them the information at the next council meeting.
“We are looking at upgrades. We have applied for a grant, we haven’t heard anything yet,” said Margaret Plumtree, mayor of Vauxhall.
Town CAO Cris Burns said that although they might not receive the grant, as it was a similar grant that they had first applied for when building the pool, and they were supposed to hear back about it before winter, if they do get the grant they might be able to put the money towards other functions in the hall.
Currently, they are focussing on kitchen upgrades in the Hall. The stoves and ovens have been replaced, but they are still renovating in those spots.
“The main reason we started with the stoves was the oven and concession at the arena was on fire last year or was it two years ago. What happened was a leak went through and one of the valves burnt up,” said Burns. “The oven in the Hall was older, we wanted to replace it, so we put in for that new stovetop down.”
Klempnauer expressed the ag-society’s interest in helping to complete the needed renovations with the Hall. However, they were unsure whether they could, due to the rec board’s mandate.
“We wanted to find out what the plan was and let you know that there was some funds available, where we can help out with in that regard, and the other thing is maybe with some man power,” said Klempnauer.
“We were looking at the bylaw with the recreation board, that seems to be the mandate for the rec board, so we were trying to find out how that works. It looks like they are (employed) by your terms, but you can add and remove members through council, and we thought it might be a good idea to look at having people from different kinds of groups on this rec board, I’m not aware who is exactly on there.”
Council doesn’t mandate who could be on the board, adding the whoever applies for a position tends to be put on the board. Although the rec board looks after facilities and recreation activities for the community, the Community Hall upgrades are being done through council, so if the ag-society wants to help, they can go straight to the town.
Klempnauer was a little hesitant on that point, especially if meant that the ag-society would be the only group working on it, and expressed an interest in potentially joining the rec board, to better share and exchange ideas on the Hall.
“To be just the only group to do it, I don’t know if that is the right way to go about it. There’s multiple options to do it right? If there’s more then one group looking at it and using the facility, we could maybe achieve more then just one group.”
Although the current renovations are the town’s responsibility, council acknowledge that the hall could be used for recreation purposes.
“You look at it as just a kitchen, then yeah, it’s not rec,” said Martin Kondor, Vauxhall councillor. “But if you look at the whole facility, it is used for recreational (purposes).”
As of that council meeting, there were spots still available on the rec board. Kondor said that Klempnauer could join if she submitted a letter indicating her interest in serving on the board.
“It’s open to anyone who wants to be involved, because recreation is a big part of a small community,” said Plumtree.
The suggestion arose that they fundraise for the Hall like they did with the pool, noting that the Friends of the Pool Society had done a great job in getting the community pool back up and running. The benefit of getting similar passionate people together would go a long way in renovating the Community Hall.
“I’d love to see the whole complex done, right, including, and I know it’s expensive but I’d love to see it paved,” said Plumtree. “All those events, and people are dressed up and it tends to rain and snow and melt, and you’re walking in mud, right. The M.D. helps us right away to get it gravelled again, but just the nature of everyone driving on it, it turns to mud really fast.”
As it is a community facility, any group who wants to help in the upgrades can. Kondor also raised the possibility of adding a small usage tax to the hall to help pay for the renovations, much like the town did to resident years ago when they first paved.
“When they paved, homeowners got taxed a little more until they paid off the sidewalks or something. Maybe we could do something like that with the Hall too,” said Kondor. “If you’re using the kitchen, your fees are a little (higher), they’re going directly to the kitchen no matter what. That’s not for the expense of it, it’s going to buy a new kitchen.”
Council discussed the possibility of forming a committee — either in or outside of the rec board — to fundraise for the pool, and accepted the letter for information.
“I would love to see it going again,” said Plumtree. “We got a pool now, let’s see what else we can do.”