The Township Empire: Our community halls

·2 min read

Some municipalities in Ontario run golf courses, some own cemeteries, some operate art galleries. Although the Township of Uxbridge does none of those things, it nevertheless owns a number of buildings and considerable acreage dedicated to recreation. The buildings range from a tiny rural library to one of the largest mausoleums in North America. It has a theatre, and a museum, and a large and well-respected system of trails. And a great deal else.

In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 24 municipal election, the Cosmos would like to give you a closer look at those various properties: how they’re managed and funded, and how they contribute to the quality of life of Uxbridge residents.

We’ll start with the community halls in three hamlets - Goodwood, Sandford and Zephyr - that host everything from celebratory Jack-and-Jills to election polling. The Zephyr and Goodwood Halls are the same size (capacity 149 people) and were built about 50 years ago through the philanthropy of Stouffville resident Art Latcham. Sandford’s hall was built in 1997 and is somewhat bigger, holding up to 190 people.

Management - All three halls have small local advisory boards, with members appointed by township council, who have input into renovations and programming. None have permanent staff. Caretaking and maintenance are provided by part-time employees who also care for other township buildings, while rentals go through an employee who similarly books buildings like the Music Hall and the Seniors’ Centre.

Funding - Ongoing maintenance and capital projects (Sandford’s washrooms were recently made fully accessible) are allotted each hall through a separate line in the township budget. Rental rates, higher on weekends, also vary among the halls, Zephyr being least expensive because of its distance from Uxbridge, Sandford being most expensive because of its size. The rental rates have no preference for Uxbridge users compared to those from out of the Township. As with almost any public building, revenues do not come close to matching expenses.

Here are the figures for 2019, the last pre-pandemic year:

Goodwood - Expenses $34,788, Revenues $17,875

Sandford - Expenses $54,782, Revenues $17,085

Zephyr - Expenses $26,994, Revenues $4,172

Udora - The hamlet of Udora is unique in straddling the boundary between Uxbridge and the Town of Georgina. The community hall is on the Georgina side, and is entirely managed and maintained by that municipality. In recognition of the fact that many Udora residents are Uxbridge citizens, the Township of Uxbridge does make a small annual contribution to its upkeep. In 2022, the contribution was $7,500.

Conrad Boyce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos