Community hall in final years
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 08:18 am
Turner Valley’s community centre is seeing its last round of renovations before it reaches the end of the line.
Turner Valley council approved no more than $55,000 in renovations for the 38-year-old Quonset-style Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall on Aug. 6 to keep it running for up to five years before the doors will close for good.
“We are going to limp it along as long as we can and we believe that’s three to five years,” said Mayor Kelly Tuck after the meeting. “It’s definitely done its job.”
Council approved a list of repairs for the building, which was built in 1975, including roof repairs, which will be covered by insurance, grading around the building, repairing and replacing the sidewalk, repairing the exit door, upgrading the electrical panel and installing a new fire alarm system required for events with more than 150 people.
The fire alarm is estimated to cost $15,000. Council plans to recoup around $6,000 by establishing a $200 fee for events with more than 150 people.
Tuck said council didn’t approve other work needed such as replacing the flooring, renovating the bathrooms and replacing the stove.
“It’s an old building,” she said. “It has been very well used over the years. It’s treated the community really well.”
Turner Valley resident Fritz Peyerl said the closing of the Flare ‘n’ Derrick is long overdue.
“There is so much mildew and smell in it that I wouldn’t go in it,” he said. “It never was built properly – there’s no proper foundation. We have a nice library and then we have the hole in the wall back there. It’s ridiculous.”
Peyerl said it’s time for a replacement.
“We need something new,” he said. “We need a community hall. That’s what keeps the community together. The way it is right now it’s more than me who don’t go in there.”
The Flare ‘n’ Derrick doesn’t generate revenue for the Town. Instead, it runs at an annual deficit of about $30,000, said Tuck.
“We as a council are requested to donate for events,” she said. “They are community events. Community halls have always been known to be white elephants.”
Despite the costs and lack of revenue, Tuck said it’s critical that Turner Valley have a community centre and the Town must come up with a plan to replace it, whether it utilizes other buildings in the community or builds a new one.
“We will definitely come up with a plan, probably within the next couple of years.” she said. “I want to go to different community halls and see how they are operated.”
If council agrees to build a new hall, Tuck would like to see it a regional project shared with other area communities.
“We know it’s probably about $3 million (to build a new facility),” she said. “If we are building a community hall we definitely need partners. There is no way it could be done by the Town alone.”
Town of Turner Valley Community Services Manager Monique Leblanc said the Town is already looking into it.
“Administration staff has been tasked with looking at those options and is currently working with stakeholder groups for input and considering what type of funding might be available,” she said. “It really outlived its life. It’s 38 years old now and the life expectancy for that type of building is 25 years.”
Among the biggest users of the Flare ‘n’ Derrick is the Beneath the Arch Concert Series, which hosts about seven concerts a year and brings in about 300 people per concert. Leblanc said the Town is working with the organization to continue to accommodate them.
“They are highly valued as an important cultural organization in this community,” she said. “It really is something where we have to look at keeping it open as long as we can until something sustainable comes along.”
Beneath the Arch Concert Series Secretary Dick Toews hopes something will be in place when the Flare ‘n’ Derrick’s doors are officially closed.
“If there is no community hall in this area that’s problematic,” he said. “We don’t really have another venue in this area.”
Toews said the facility has been an ideal venue for their concerts, providing great acoustics and adequate space for their large audiences.
“It supports local industry,” he said. “No only the restaurants, we use our hotels for our performers, plus it brings people to town. There are people who move to this area because of the music scene here.”
Toews said he understands the importance of the organization’s role in assisting with the costs of a fire alarm system.
“We are still in the process of trying to get a grant that would cover some of the costs,” he said. “We are one of the few users of the hall that requires more than 150 people.”
The six or seven concerts this season means their contribution would be about $1,200 or $1,400, which Toews said represents about two per cent of their budget.
“We can handle it in the short term,” he said. “We may have to raise fees in the long term.”