A public meeting held in Rocanville last Thursday night was successful in getting the ball rolling on plans for a new hall.
A large crowd of people attended the meeting, which was held at the Catholic church, to discuss moving forward with a new hall in Rocanville, and some of the different options that were being presented.
Steve Fortney, chair of the committee doing the planning for the hall, chaired the meeting and laid out the committee’s plans.
“We feel we have a basic plan and basic idea of what the costs are—enough to have a relatively informed meeting,” Fortney told the crowd.
At the meeting, the estimated costs of the hall were discussed. Fortney said, based on estimates so far and the size of the hall, the cost will likely come in between $2 million and $3 million. He pointed out that the Conexus Convention Centre in Moosomin cost $2.2 million and said the committee decided to estimate high on the Rocanville hall to start with, instead of estimating low and ratcheting up costs.
Covering the cost of building the hall was also discussed extensively. Fortney says the committee is hoping to gain roughly one-third of their funding from corporate donations, one-third from the municipalities, and one-third from fundraising and grants.
He said the committee has contacted PotashCorp early in the process to allow the company to budget for a major donation if they so choose.
“We’ve contacted PotashCorp and they’ve been very positive,” he said. “They do all their budgeting in October and November. That’s why we contacted them now.”
Fortney pointed out that if PotashCorp were to donate one-third of the cost of the hall, they would likely only do so if their portion could be matched by fundraising. The other third of the cost would come through taxation.
Both Rocanville Mayor Daryl Fingas and RM of Rocanville Reeve Murray Reid spoke about how their municipalities could contribute to the project.
Fingas said the town has just finished paying back money borrowed for the hospital and is now paying for the town’s newest subdivision—Cameron Crescent. He said a levy on taxpayers would be required in order for the town to cover costs of the hall.
“We would have to look at putting a special levy on, maybe only for two years,” said Fingas. “It would have to come out of a special levy on taxpayers because we haven’t put any money aside for a hall.”
RM of Rocanville Reeve Murray Reid said he didn’t think a levy would be needed on RM taxpayers, but said the RM council is fully behind the project and that the RM will contribute $100,000 to the project right away.
“We had a meeting last week and our council is behind this project,” he said. “We’ve decided we would put $100,000 to get things rolling off the bat, and I guess we will see how the costs come in after that.”
Members of the crowd asked if grants would be available to help fundraise for the hall.
“We’ll be going after as many grants and other things as we can get,” said Fortney.
Both the layout and the location of the new hall were discussed, as well as the uses for the facility. A number of questions came from the floor regarding acoustics, audio visual, the size of the stage and how the hall layout could be arranged to be suitable for performances where prep space is needed for performers, and what sports could be played in the hall.
Fortney said the committee was planning to make the hall as multi-functional as possible.
Two proposed locations were discussed for the hall—one on Ellice Street where the old rink had been located, and the other between the curling rink and swimming pool.
Fortney pointed out that there would be some additional expenses at the old rink location, as the foundation of the old rink would need to be removed first, and a power line would have to be moved.
Two layouts for the hall were also discussed—one with the washrooms on the front of the hall, and one with the washrooms on the back.
A number of questions came from the floor about why the committee was not tying the hall in with an existing facility, such as the curling rink or skating rink.
“We had more layouts to tie the hall into existing facilities than we did these layouts,” says Fortney.
“In modifying an existing building you tie in lots of unexpected costs. As soon as you touch an existing building, you have to meet current codes on the old building.”
Fortney pointed out that the rink is 40 years old and it would likely take thousands of dollars to bring it up to code.
“You’d need to get the structural and electrical and fire codes up to spec. If there is any asbestos in the building, it’s hugely expensive.”
He said that the committee scrapped any plans of tying in the new hall to an existing building because of all the unknowns that could pop up, along with unknown expenses.
Fortney says the new hall will likely be 10 per cent larger that the Conexus Convention Centre in Moosomin. Due to the size of the project, he said there will likely be one specialized contractor hired to construct the hall.
“We see this as quite a big project. We do not foresee any volunteer labor being used, and will probably contract the entire amount out to keep it on track.”
He said the committee will be speaking with Moosomin to see what worked well during the construction of that town’s MCC Centre and what didn’t work well.
At the end of the meeting a show of hands was taken to determine the direction of the hall.
When asked if anyone was opposed to building a hall, there were no objections.
A vote was taken on the location of the hall with the majority of votes going to the location between the curling rink and the pool.
Votes were taken on the layout of the hall. Twenty people voted for the layout with the washrooms at the rear of the hall and 15 people voted for the layout that was based on a mini version of the Russell hall, with the washrooms in the front entry.
The committee did not vote and it was pointed out that as the project progressed, the layout would likely change based on practicalities and other factors.
“This meeting will give the committee a direction to move forward,” said Fortney. “The committee will advise the public about the final layout and direction by month end.”
Fortney said after the layout is determined an architect will be contacted to draw up the plans so that final costs can be assessed, quotes for construction can be gained, and a fundraising plan can be drawn up.
He said if the project is on schedule, the committee is hoping construction will begin in May.