The Peace River Regional District has decided to shutter Adeline Kelly hall at the North Peace Fall Fair Grounds, with directors voting in favour of seeking alternatives at their June 9 board meeting.
Directors said the building is unfit as a public gathering space in its current state, reiterating that it be used as storage instead. A building permit was approved and issued for the hall in 2014.
North Peace Fall Fair president Bruce Christensen said common sense is failing to enter the conversation, as they has no need for a storage building, nor do they want to give up on a building that they’ve invested over $100,000 dollars in.
“They’ve condemned the building, we cannot use it for anything. They haven’t offered us any solution to the building, they have offered us potentially maybe the use of a tent for the actual fall fair, but we have lost the use of that building,” he said.
“Basically we’ve been told that it’s our fault – that we should have known that when we asked for the building permit, that we should have known all about the building permit even though building permits are not required in that area.”
Christensen said the fair will be going ahead despite the PRRD’s decision to not allow them to use the hall, as he feels the 75-year strong event is important to the heritage of the Peace Region.
“We have people that have been volunteering out there for 50, 60, 70 years. And they’re just so tired of the lack of support that we seem to be receiving from the regional district,” he said. “I’m hoping that the conversation can continue on.”
“We’re going to have a fair and people will have fun, but it sure is making it very difficult, and it makes it very difficult for us, me in particular as the president, to convince people to do these things to make the fair successful,” added Christensen.
Directors also deferred a motion for a feasibility study to explore the possibility of creating a new building which could be used.
At the meeting, PRRD community services manager Trish Morgan, estimated that any study would cost between $30,000 to $50,000, if done as a regional park function.
The PRRD said the hall can only ever be used as a storage building under its current F-2 designation under BC building code requirements.
“The building was never completed or signed off by an engineer for an F-2 occupancy,” said PRRD CAO Shawn Dahlen.
Christensen attended the meeting and said he’d rather see the building fixed, which he expects could be done quite frugally. He reiterated to PRRD staff that they never applied for an F-2 permit, and it was always intended it as an assembly building - fairs, weddings, gatherings, and so on.
“I’m astonished that we keep hearing from staff that we applied for an F-2 that we applied for a permit for an F-2 building,” he said. “I made it very clear, we never applied for a permit for an F-2 building, we applied for a permit for a building which would be an assembly building.”
PRRD Chair Brad Sperling said the board doesn’t like being in the position to enforce it to be a storage building, but are legally obligated for safety concerns and liability.
“Technically, it shouldn’t be used for anything right now,” said Sperling at the meeting.
Liability concerns include snow pack on the roof in the winter months, however, the building is not heated or insulated, and is only used in the summer months for agricultural displays and venues.
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative.
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Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News