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Residents weigh purchase of Hadashville rec centre

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 06/3/2019 9:00 AM

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RM of Reynolds reeve Trudy Turchyn responds to ratepayer questions during a community meeting held at the Hadashville Recreation Centre last Thursday. Council wants to purchase the hall and renovate its underused gymnasium into a municipal office.

JORDAN ROSS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

RM of Reynolds reeve Trudy Turchyn responds to ratepayer questions during a community meeting held at the Hadashville Recreation Centre last Thursday. Council wants to purchase the hall and renovate its underused gymnasium into a municipal office.

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A proposal by Reynolds council to purchase the Hadashville Recreation Centre and turn its gymnasium into a municipal office received a mixed reaction at a community meeting held last Thursday.

About 30 local residents turned up to the meeting, which was organized by the hall’s board of directors to gauge public support for the idea. No vote was held, and council plans to call its own public hearing this fall if the purchase moves ahead.

Supporters said the plan is the most cost-effective way to remedy the municipality’s need for more office space, while detractors questioned the wisdom of repurposing an indoor recreation facility just as a major employer is about to draw more families to the area.

Hadashville’s rec centre houses a gym, banquet hall, and seniors’ club under one roof. While the latter two spaces see regular use, the gym is rented only a handful of times per year, said board member Dave McCallum.

Reeve Trudy Turchyn told attendees that the RM has outgrown its 1,200-sq-ft. office just up the road from the hall, and hasn’t the land to expand it. The building isn’t wheelchair-accessible and would likely be sold off if the hall sale proceeds, she said.

A purchase agreement has yet to be drafted, but Turchyn said the RM would likely offer to buy the 10-acre property for $1. In exchange, it would assume all operating costs, repairs, and maintenance.

Hall board members would continue to handle event bookings and maintain ownership of associated building contents, such as tables, chairs, and kitchen equipment. Seniors’ events would also continue unchanged.

Turchyn called the plan "a win-win" that would allow the hall board to cut loose what isn’t being used while preserving community access to in-demand spaces, all while solving the RM’s office space problem.

McCallum noted the plan would also spell relief for the hall’s small volunteer base, and end a near-constant search for government grants.

Board members said the rec centre has roughly three years’ worth of operating expenses in the bank, though insurance costs and electrical bills are rising.

Turchyn acknowledged the plan represents a financial risk for the RM if the hall board eventually dissolves. But she contrasted that scenario with building a new municipal office, which she said could cost up to $1.5 million and require a land purchase.

A consultant pegged a "gold standard" renovation at $700,000, but Turchyn said a satisfactory conversion could be done for "$300,000 or less"—an amount already earmarked in the municipality’s 2019 budget.

If the sale moves ahead, the project could reach the tender stage this fall, and be completed by next spring, Turchyn said.

At the meeting, several residents noted the arrival of Botanist Organic Growers Corp., a seed-to-sale hemp operation, may increase demand for local recreation amenities.

The company, which is setting up its operations at the former Pineland Forest Nursery site along the Trans-Canada Highway, expects to hire up to 200 full-time staff by 2022.

Just how many of those workers will settle in the RM of Reynolds was a question that arose frequently at the meeting.

The municipality’s only other gym is located in Prawda and requires user groups to provide their own liability insurance, said Taylor Plett, who oversees the property.

Turchyn told The Carillon the expansive municipality offers plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Reynolds residents have until June 6 to submit written feedback on the Hadashville proposal to the hall board. Letters can be dropped off at the Reynolds municipal office or mailed to the Hadashville Rec Centre, Box 72, Hadashville, MB, R0E 0X0.

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