By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County is taking undertaking a closer assessment of the Diamond City Community Hall.
During their regular June 6 meeting, Lethbridge County Council received the Facility Condition Assessment Review report for Diamond City Community Hall.
According to the document in the agenda, the Facilities Assessment Review is a high-level assessment of the overall condition of an building, and while it does not assess in each component in detail, it provides a general condition and expected useful life of the building. Where deficiencies are noted, and where history indicates past issues, interventions are recommended in the report.
Administration reported that the west side support beam for the Diamond City Community Hall experienced some rotting which caused the building and floor to sag, and has since been repaired. The report for the hall indicated that the structure is reaching its expected useful life within the next 10 years with no intervention, and recommends that the structure be looked at to increase the number of structural supports or replace.
“The Diamond City Hall has been discussed over the last year or so that they’ve had some structural concerns with that building. They did some remedial work that did buy some life for that building,” said Rick Bacon, director of municipal services for the county. “In this case, the general assessment that was done at the time did indicate that the building has a fair amount of value left, but it is nearing its time where there is some intervention needed with the structure.”
Bacon said due to the issue in the building, a full structural assessment needs to be done, which is outside the scope of the Facility Condition Assessment.
“The full structural assessment would be a little more intrusive; a lot more in-depth visual inspection, getting and under, looking at the structure, how much rot there is, what the cause of the, what we think is potentially some settlement of the building in certain areas and different types of things like that. And to come up with design recommendations to bring that building up to structural standard that would be, meet the needs of a assembly occupancy, which is where you can have things like liquor licenses, serve food and have people come there and assemble in groups.”
County administration has received two initial quotes from about $4,500 to $9,500.
Bacon said he believed that with the scope of the work, they would be more in line with the $7-8,000 range, which he called “typical for something, of a building that size”, and the assets management coordinator recommend that council approve funds of up to $9,500 to complete the structural assessment for the hall.
Reeve Lorne Hickey asked what the current assessment of the building looked like, wondering if it was “salvageable” or if they had to do the structural one to figure it out. Bacon replied no, the general assessment indicated that the building still has value, but it’s at a stage where it needs “some intervention to retrofit, to bring the structure back to an appropriate standard.”
“Some of that sloping in the floor could represent hazards or liabilities that could be cast upon us, because we are the owner of the building, and there is things that need to be looked at now,” said Bacon. “If you want to keep using that for another 20 or 30 years, then you’re going to have to do something with the foundation, to bring it up to a standard that is suitable for the type of occupancy of that building.”
Coun. Klass Vander Veen asked what where the reasons for the county owning that building, noting that other communities in the county have associations that own and take care of their community building. Bacon said that they didn’t know that they owned it until the assessment came up last year.
“I don’t know how that came about. Maybe it had something to do with the grant funding that was used at the time, and it was never transferred to the association. I don’t know.”
Vander Veen asked that “because of this”, they wouldn’t get other communities coming to then saying that if they are doing this for one community, why not them. Bacon acknowledge that there was also a risk of that happening, but they have grant funding and programs in place to assist with these matters, if it was reasonable for council to approve it. Bacon also noted that a “major investment” had taken place at some point for the Diamond City Community Hall.
“It’s beneficial to more than just Diamond City, I mean it’s used by people across a lot of the north part of the county. It’s not just a Diamond City facility.”
Larry Randle, director of community services for the county, said that historically, the county has leased the hall to the Diamond City Citizens Association for $1.
“Outright, Lethbridge County owns it, and it is a bit of a unique situations, in so far as the other community associations and community halls in our hamlets, the county does not own them,” said Randle. “The lease that we have with the association has expired, we have a new one poised, ready to go for the group. However, we have held off signing and re-entering into a lease based on the fact there are some structural questions, let’s say, with the integrity and safety of the building. As (Bacon) points out, you know, until we have this assessment done, and are absolutely confident that, you know maybe the building still needs some upgrades and repairs, but that its safe and going to be functional, we’ve held off signing that lease.”
Once they are at that point, Randle said they would be in a position to sign the lease and consider whether they want to look at “divesting itself of that particular assets”.
Coun Morris Zeinstra noted the importance of keeping community halls going, and voice support of the leasing arrangement for the Diamond City hall.
“The way it’s written up, they lease it from the county, and I think that’s actually a great arrangement. Because it’s the community itself, that kind of do the bookings, and if we had to do that out of this county office, it might not happen again,” said Zeinstra.
Council unanimously passed a motion to direct administration to proceed with having a structural assessment of the Diamond City Community Hall completed for the amount quoted and not to exceed $9,500.