On June 14th the District of Invermere (DOI) hosted invited focus groups, and on June 15th we had a public open house to discuss future options for the existing (or old) community hall site. So far the response to the online survey has been strong, and council has made the decision to extend the deadline for more response until the end of June.
The input received so far has been very diverse. A combination of opinions exist between retaining the site exclusively for public use, or interest in selling the entire site to a private developer, or some potential for a public/private partnership.
One very strong theme and fairly organized group is that of gymnastics and in a more general sense people who want to see a recreation facility.
With the 20 plus years it took to agree, plan, finance and construct the new community hall on the old high school site, combined with the significant financial investment including debt and reserve funding almost completely funded by DOI taxpayers, it is unlikely that the DOI will be taking the lead role in building another facility for a number of years. The DOI could potentially play a partnering role and help to supply land if another entity or group had the financing to construct a new facility. An important question will be what potential locations make sense; and is the old community hall site the right fit for that use?
One of the challenges facing a small community, especially one that does not have major commercial or industrial tax base is how a community of 3,400 funds not only basic services and upgrades/maintenance to infrastructure, but also additional needs/wants. It can also be open to interpretation and debate which things are needs and which things are wants.
Realistically the old community hall site will likely need a plan for the immediate short term post demolition of the building in September, and also a longer term concept/vision. It is an exciting opportunity to have a blank slate, and there is no pressing need to make binding decisions, but it is important to start the discussion and work towards finding uses which come close to reaching community consensus. The only thing that is not open for discussion, is whether the old hall is being demolished- that is the one thing not open for discussion/debate.
Please take the time to fill out a survey.