The future of the Little Qualicum Hall is still uncertain.
The Regional District of Nanaimo announced in June plans to demolish the hall, citing prohibitive costs to upgrade the building that has been in the Dashwood community for more than 70 years. That plan was put on hold at the request of the Electoral Area G Parks and Open Space Advisory Council (POSAC), which recommended the RDN conduct further review and initiate consultation with the community.
Now, with the Christmas season underway, Little Qualicum Hall is expected to be a hub of activity with plans to stage events and parties in the building.
However, there are safety concerns the RDN needs to address before the public can continue to use the hall, said Duane Round, a member of the Electoral Area G POSAC. At its Nov. 1 meeting, Round said members passed a motion requesting the RDN make some immediate repairs to make the hall safe for public use.
One of the repairs required is to the washroom, with little cost anticipated, said Round.
“To me that was the most immediate one, after looking at it myself,” said Round, who has been in the construction business for more than 40 years. “The toilets have been leaking for a long time and the floors have rotted out around the toilets.”
Round is not discounting other issues that the RDN might assess that need immediate attention.
“I am sure I can find some, too, as far as handrailings and door emergency exits, that type of thing,” said Round. “I am not sure what they’re going to spend on if they actually do those repairs.”
Round said considering there is already a plan to demolish the hall, the RDN might not invest a lot of money to make any of the repairs. The RDN has indicated that it would cost around $450,000 to upgrade the hall, which is believed to have been constructed in 1930.
The RDN board at its committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 28 did not commit to making any of the repairs requested until the review of the engineering study on the facility that is being conducted by Herold Engineering, the integrity of the structure is confirmed, and consultation with the local community has been conducted.
“Why, I don’t know,” said Round. “They’ve already done two. I don’t think they need another report. I am not sure what they’re expecting to find in the new report. Some of us on the board feel it’s not a good use of taxpayers’ money. That will not be available to us until next April.”
Round also said the regional district should start the consultation with the community over the future of the hall, which the community regards as an asset to the community. It has been widely used as a public gathering venue.
“That should take place immediately, before any other things are done or money is spent,” said Round.
Another important function of the hall, he said, is it serves as command centre for the RDN’s Emergency Response Plan.
“Unless they have some other way to fulfill that plan, the building still needs to be a part of that,” said Round.