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Council approves Anzac Community Hall rebuild

Last Updated Sep 17, 2019 at 3:51 pm MST

PHOTO. Gathered at the Recreation Centre, RMWB Council convened their annual meeting in the rural hamlet of Anzac, where they voted in support of a motion paving the way to a rebuilt Anzac Community Hall. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood.

At their annual meeting in Anzac, Council voted in favour to tear down and rebuild the Anzac Community Hall.

The motion recommends the RMWB demolish the building, and sell the land to the Anzac Recreation and Social Society (AR&SS).

According to the administration, the cost to tear down the old Hall is $335,000.

After the sale, the administration will work with the AR&SS to determine the scope and functions of the new Hall.

Original estimates proposed a cost of the rebuild at $2.94-million or $355/sq. ft.

Fabric of our community

Before the vote, RMWB Council heard several presentations from Anzac residents and community groups.

Constructed in 1992, the Hall housed the hamlet’s community events such as weddings, funerals, and cultural and traditional gatherings.

It also housed office space for meetings and clinics, and a community laundromat, kitchen, and bathrooms.

Vanessa Hodgson, Vice-President of the AR&SS, said the Anzac Community Hall is the heart of the community.

“I have [AR&SS] minutes from the 1990s [from] community members who put their heart, time, away from their families, vacation days off work to build this [and] make it the fabric of our community. So it’s nice to bring that back to the community.”

The AR$SS contributed $50,000 from fundraising efforts to the building of the original Hall along with countless volunteer hours.

After the 2016 wildfire, Anzac residents returned to the Community Hall before returning to their homes.

In service for almost 25 years, flooding occurred in December 2017 as a result of a broken water main.

The renovations forced the AR&SS to close the Community Hall and move its services to the Recreation Centre.

Unfortunately, Hodgson said to Council the move had a negative impact on many programs and services in the town.

The Recreation Centre lacked the conducive, confidential, or comfortable environment the Hall provided.

Hodgson presented a letter of support from Principal Cal Johnston of nearby Bill Woodward School.

“We used [the Hall] as a muster point for emergencies and if students were out of the school during a lockdown or hold and secure. Due to the proximity this was an ideal location.”

Johnston added the Community Hall housed fundraising and community engagement activities,

Furthermore, high school students could volunteer at the Hall to receive high school credits.

Letters of support from other non-profit groups and health services voiced similar concerns.

Organizations had to budget for rental fees, whereas the Hall provided free or low-cost meeting and office space for social profits.

“Bridging the gaps of needs, and having non-profit groups put money back into programming and not losing so much money in rental fees.” Said Vanessa Hodgson. “That’s really important for us, too.”

A place to call home

Young Adler Meynard and Karley Bennett of the Anzac Junior Leaders and Scouts agreed with the AR&SS.

In their presentation to RMWB Council, Meynard and Bennett spoke of Community Hall’s historical and cultural significance.

Kids and seniors could make a safe walk to the Hall for movie nights or seniors activities, in particular during the winter.

Borrowing the words of Councillor Mike Allen from the October 2018 meeting, Meynard and Bennett said not rebuilding “clearly does not meet the needs”.

AR&SS President Chad Shkopich said rebuilding the Hall would give the hamlet back its identity.

“I think it will put smiles on people’s faces again. It’s not the original Hall, but it’s going to be something that we can call home.”

Looking ahead to the rebuild, the RMWB and AR&SS would collaborate to determine the scope of the new Hall and its functions.

When asked about a timeframe for construction, Meynard and Bennett said they hope Community Hall could re-open in a couple of years.