Search begins for new Albion hall meeting place in Maple Ridge

Group doesn’t want it on former Jackson Farm, saved from development in 2010

Albion residents will have to wait another half decade to see any replacement of the old Albion community hall that was torn down in 2011.

But at least the process got underway Monday, as council looked at ways of how to pay for a new hall for the suburb east of 240th Street.

The project already has a nest egg, $290,000 that was donated by the Albion Community Club, when the hall was torn down. The club donated the money to the district on the condition it be used to build a new hall.

That could be combined with $600,000 from the Albion amenity fund, which receives money from developers in return for increasing the density of new housing projects in Albion.

Another $300,000 could come from the district’s share of earnings from Chances Maple Ridge community gaming centre.

That adds up to $1.2 million in the pot, without even a concept plan in place.

Everything’s up for discussion, Mayor Ernie Daykin said Wednesday.

Council told staff to write a report specifying funding sources and potential partnerships.

Daykin downplayed the chances of a new building resembling the high-end South Bonson Community Centre in Pitt Meadows, which has a banquet hall, kitchen and meeting rooms.

“I think it may not be South Bonson. It may be something more modest,” Daykin said. “I think it depends on what the community might use it for.”

A new hall could be just a replacement of the old and serve as a place for dance lessons or groups such as guides or scouts.

“There’s still a need in the community for another banquet facility.”

A community hall could also be a joint project with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district. Property has been set aside on 104th Avenue for a new school, he said.

Beryl Eales, with Friends of Jackson Farm, favours that location and opposes putting a new community hall on the Jackson Farm at 102nd Avenue and 244th Street. Her group saved the farm as a passive-use park in 2010.

“Hands off Jackson Farm. It’s an open space. We saved it for that reason.”

Coun. Al Hogarth has suggested that the park could be the site of a hall that could serve as a combined use as an agricultural school.

The farm initially was proposed for a subdivision, but Friends of Jackson Farm petitioned the district and successfully pressured to have it preserved as a park.

Elizabeth Taylor, who lives in Albion, said a new hall should have a proper dance floor so it can be used by all groups. The Stewart School of Irish Dance was left without a home when Albion hall was torn down. Schools don’t like the dancers in their gyms because they scuff the floor. The dance group is now at Colleen Findlay Place, formerly a school.

Daykin said Albion hall has to be prioritized with the parks and leisure services commission. He agreed the development of Albion flats in the area of 105th Avenue, where Smart Centres wants to build a mall, could also influence the location.

He added that the cost of operating and maintaining a new Albion hall could exceed the cost of construction.

“A lot of it depends on funding,” said Daykin.

A staff report notes that, following a consultation process, if the public no longer wants the Albion amenity fund to be used for a hall, another source of money would be needed.

Coun. Michael Morden said creating some kind of facility in Albion should be a priority after the tear down of the old hall.

“They had it and so we’ve got to do our best to get that back as quickly as we can.”

Albion and Silver Valley are short of recreation and community facilities, he added.

Perhaps public-private partnership might work. He agreed the time frame might be five years.

“We have to look at options.”

But it has to go through a public process, he added.