This evening the Peachland Hub Society received council’s support to move forward with plans to substantially renovate and expand the 50 Plus Activity Centre into a community hub and annex.
While the municipality owns the building, the $7.6 million main hub project and $500,000 – $600,000 annex project would be financed through grants and fundraising efforts by the various local community groups that comprise the society.
The society came to council seeking authorization from the district as well as a letter of intent for a minimum 10-year lease to show management and control of the asset after the project.
The plan is to renovate the current 50 Plus Activity Centre with various energy efficiency and building upgrades, and build an expansion that will involve adding circulation and a new face for the building via a pre-function space/lobby, as well as a two-storey addition providing two multi-purpose spaces with washrooms on the ground floor and office space on the upper floor.
The complex would also include a smaller building or “annex” to house the Peachland Food Bank and provide some additional storage on the north side of Cousins Park between the main hub building and the highway.
Over the past several months the society has put together a business case, which was presented by Rick Ingram at this morning’s committee meeting.
“A key consideration in the renovation and expansion of the PDRS building is to give it meaningful new life for the next 50 years,” Ingram’s report to council states.
The society sees this project as an opportunity to significantly improve the building’s presence on Beach Ave. Plans are to incorporate the following key considerations:
- Move the main entry to Beach Ave;
- Develop a transparent, inviting public face along the Beach Ave frontage that conveys an appropriate image for a contemporary civic institution;
- Provide an exterior entry plaza with space for seating;
- Consider leaving parts of the façade available for public art murals;
- Choose finish materials that are FireSmart, do not require painting and are long lasting;
- Maintaining the street trees where possible;
- Engage views to the lake and Cousins Park from within the building; and
- Allow for views from the street directly into the lobby and the main multi-purpose rooms.
The primary motivation for the separation of the annex is that it allows the whole project to be phased, with the annex building happening considerably in advance of the main hub building. Also, by breaking the plan into two distinct projects, the society hopes to qualify for additional grant opportunities.
The society intends to finance the projects through the following:
- Hub start-up supporters – $120,000;
- Government grants – $4,706,000;
- Individual donor campaign – $2,030,000;
- Small individual donations – $30,000;
- Car raffles – $900,000;
- Other raffles, bingos and auctions – $300,000; and
- Peachland Hub merchandise – $2,500.
If funding is successful, the society hopes to begin construction on the annex in the fourth quarter of 2023 and the main hub in the second quarter of 2024.
“There’s no question this is an extremely ambitious project,” said Ingram.
The society is moving forward quite speedily with the plan because time is of the essence for several community groups who will soon be without a home.
A catalyst for the project was the announcement last year that the Peachland Wellness Centre, Peachland Community Police (also home to the Peachland Lions), and Peachland Food Bank structures would imminently need to come down to make way for the second phase of the Residences on 6th seniors housing. Last November a group representing many of Peachland’s community organizations got together and proposed that the 50 Plus Activity Centre be converted into a community service hub that would house numerous service groups, including those that will be displaced when the new seniors housing is constructed.
Peachland Community Connects serves as the spokesperson for the group of organizations that form the Peachland Hub Society.
In a letter dated Dec. 6, Peachland Community Connects chair Shelley Sweeney wrote to Peachland’s mayor and council on behalf of all represented groups asking for initial support in converting the 50 Plus Activity Centre into a community service hub. Currently the groups that are represented and are in support of the initiative include the Peachland Lions Club, Peachland Wellness Centre, Peachland Food Bank, Peachland Community Connects, Peachland and District Retirement Society (PDRS), the Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society (BEEPS), Peachland Chamber of Commerce, Peachland Rotary, and Peachland Ambassadors.
The plan has the support of the board of the PDRS, the organization that operates the 50 Plus.
PDRS president Gwen Bodnarek said the board is ready to sign over their lease after the hub makes a presentation to the membership at their Apr. 29 potluck.
“We’ve agreed to go with the decision because we think it’s great for Peachland,” said Bodnarek.
The current structure is considered dated and the hub society has identified a number of issues. The building doesn’t meet current energy requirements, the washrooms don’t meet barrier free code, and concrete block walls are filled with vermiculite (asbestos) insulation.
Their research found that the building was first constructed in 1975 as the Senior Citizens Activity Centre. It was expanded twice, first in 1978 to add three rooms on the south side for games, crafts and a small library (now used as office space) and again in 1987 to the west to enlarge the main hall and to add washrooms, a storage room and a larger kitchen. At some point a separate small storage building was built to the west of the main building.
“These groups first came together in Nov. 2021 around the table just to see if there are synergies going and how they would approach the future of community groups here in town. And to my astonishment, we’re now five months later and look at what we have on the books,” said Coun. Patrick Van Minsel, who initiated and facilitated the discussion amongst community groups that led to the formation of the hub society.
“It has been a lot of work and a lot of effort and I really want to commend them for this,” said Van Minsel.
Coun. Terry Condon called their business plan “a real work of art” and “quite stunning.”
“The value that the occupant organizations bring to the community is immeasurable, so it certainly has my full support,” said Coun. Mike Kent. “With everybody rowing in the same direction, although it’s an ambitious project, I have full confidence that this will be realized. With the efforts of the groups that we’ve seen in the past, I think that this is very achievable and a great move for the community.”
“I think this is a wonderful vision,” said Coun. Keith Fielding.
There are a number of question marks remaining about where displaced groups will run their programs and services before the project is complete. The Peachland Wellness Centre, the Peachland Food Bank, Peachland Community Policing and the Peachland Lions will need interim space when their structures are taken down to make room for the Peachland Seniors Support Society phase two construction.
Then when hub construction starts, PDRS and all activities located in the 50 Plus building will need interim space. Proposed interim spaces include the community centre banquet room, little schoolhouse, chamber boardroom, United Church hall, United Church sanctuary, common rooms at condo complexes, 4th Street Place, the community centre gym, the Anglican Church basement room, and the Peachland Historic School boardroom.
Another challenge to be addressed is ensuring that sufficient space will be available for the continuation of sports and recreation at Cousins Park. The society says the softball leagues that regularly utilize Cousins Park (seniors and mixed slow-pitch) have been engaged, and both groups expressed general support for the preliminary building designs/locations presented.