Input sought on future of Kelowna’s Rutland Centennial Hall

Options for the hall's future include renovation of what's there today or building a new hall, complete with a commercial component.

All Kelowna residents, not just those who live in Rutland, are being asked for their opinions about refurbishment, renovation or replacement of the aging Rutland Centennial Hall.

Late last week, at an open house to provide information to attendees about options for the future of the hall and the associated costs, Rutland Hall Society president Todd Sanderson said with the survey’s open to the public on the website, a wide range of opinions are beng sought.

“We want to hear what the public wants us to do,” he said.

The hall, which is in desperate need of repair has $800,000 at its disposal as funds the society received for selling the adjacent Rutland Centennial Park to the city last year, and, if renovations are done, will get another $272,000 from the federal government’s Canada 150 fund.

But if a rebuild is done, that grant will not be available.

Sanderson said, in order to not to loose the federal money, his group is asking Ottawa to put those funds towards work on the park if they are not used for the hall.

At last week’s open house, the cost of replacing the hall was pegged at between $2.6 million and $3 million but Sanderson said if it is to be a bigger facility—as has been requested by some groups in the community eager to rent it in future for events— the price tag could be shoot up to nearer $5 million.

Sanderson said the just over $1 million the hall society has now for renovations would actually only pay to bring the hall up to code. It would not expand or improve what is already there. And it would not include costs such as adding a new sound system and new kitchen appliances—both badly needed— and the estimated $108,000 for proper disposal and abatement of hazardous materials in the building such as asbestos.

The cost of a new building would not include the $218,000 demolition of the existing building, or land costs such as acquisition if a bigger footprint is needed. It would also not cover the cost of design and development of the new building.

The existing hall can hold about 350 people, said Sanderson said some groups have said if it held between 500 and 700, they would consider renting it for events. That would help the society generate money to maintain the building.

At the open house, four options were presented:

1. Renovate the existing building shell

2. Renovate around the existing auditorium only

3. Build a new community hall

4. Build a new community hall with a commercial component.

The price would increase as the options move from one to four.

The feedback gathered from the open house and the online survey will be discussed by the hall society’s board later this spring and the public will be consulted again later this year with more specific proposals to chose from.

The board hopes to be in a position to make a final decision on the hall’s future before the end of the year.