Survey gauges community commitment to Dunedin hall
The Dunedin Village Hall board of directors have launched a survey designed to gauge overall use of the hall and the community’s commitment to see it through a proposed accessibility renovation.
Until May 15, the hall board is asking people to weigh in on the value of the hall in terms of its use and their willingness to pitch-in and help support a fundraising effort.
“I’m really looking for some community buy-in to say, yes we want the hall, yes we’ll come and help knock on doors. And we do have that in the community from a handful of people that we can always count on,” said board chair Jennifer Jansen. “I want it to be embraced by everyone who has a stake in the village.”
The public outreach is in response to a proposal from Clearview Township council which has made offers to all of the municipally owned halls in the township in order to bring them to an accessibility standard set out by the province.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) calls on corporations with more than 50 employees to make public spaces accessible by 2016, with the goal of having a fully accessible province by 2025.
Dunedin was presented two options late last month: one option is to renovate to meet the AODA requirements set out in the Building Code at a cost of $520,000, with the board being expected to contribute 25 per cent of the total cost at $130,000. The other option is to purchase the hall for $1 and operate it as an independent board.
Jansen said the board is facing some questions and doesn’t have a lot of answers. There are many unknowns about hard deadlines and penalties.
In Dunedin, pre-pandemic, the hall is used for regular exercise classes, celebrations, private bookings and is home to annual events such as the Fisherman’s Breakfast, plant sale, Handmade in the Valley, the annual community Christmas Potluck, to name a few.
At the beginning of 2020 volunteers were preparing to host the 33rd annual Fisherman’s Breakfast, a favourite local event, but with the hall shut down due to health protocols, Jansen said the reality is that its only use is as a place for cyclists to park their cars while they ride.
If I had to guess, I’d say it’s one of the quieter halls,” said Jansen.
She said people are supportive of events but the four-person board has struggled to get people to fully commit as board members.
Jansen is encouraging all people, regardless of which community they live in, or if they are part-time residents to respond to the survey and share all ideas, no matter how out there.
“I don’t want to make decisions that the community doesn’t agree with or isn’t down for, that’s really why we want to hear from everybody,” said Jansen.
She said she has heard from people who think the hall is most integral to the community. Others would rather have a pavilion in the park while some have said the community should buy it and open a pub.
“There are all kinds of ideas being tossed around,” said Jansen. “And we can do that until we’re blue in the face but I want to hear from the community. It’s their hall. If the community isn’t interested in supporting the hall, or getting involved with the hall then perhaps it’s time for us to consider other options.”
The board is cognizant however, of the implications of taking on ownership of the facility and is leery of operating the hall without some of the supports it enjoys from the municipality, both operational and administrative.
To complete the survey online visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/DunedinHall or via www.facebook.com/dunedinvillagehall and other social media channels. Paper copies will be available in be a box near the lower door of the hall where people can pick-up and drop off the hardcopies.
The survey also offers people a chance to sign up as a volunteer, or donor, and to join the e-mail list.