Gorge Hall

SRD released funding for Cortes Island’s community halls

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) released the funding for Cortes Island’s community halls. Though they were to have received this money in quarterly instalments, it has been close to a year since the SRD passed the Bylaw “to establish a community hall service within and for the benefit of Electoral Area B (Cortes Island).” The minutes of that meeting refer to the need for “a further report outlining next steps for implementing the community hall service.”  Former Chair Michele Babchuk and the SRD’s Corporate Officer did not receive authorization to ‘execute the contracts’ until last August. A spokesperson from the Whaletown Community Club (WCC), which operates Gorge Hall, said the funds needed for a year of operations have now been deposited directly into their bank account. Manson’s Hall Manager, Mary Lavelle, confirmed that a similar deposit was made into the Southern Cortes Community Association’s (SCCA) account on Friday, October 30th, 2020.

People waiting to enter Mansons Hall this summer – Roy L Hales photo

Funded through property taxes

This money comes out of Cortes Island’s property taxes and will be used for core operating expenses: electricity, heating, garbage collection, telephone and fax, internet service, property taxes, insurance, supplies and contract services related to operating and maintaining the two halls. 

De Clarke’s 2018 study of twenty community halls, between Haida Gwaii and the Southern Gulf Islands, found that almost all of them were funded through property taxes. Three of these halls service populations of less than 200 people.

Mansons Hall parking lot when there is nothing happening inside. The hall is to the left, the Friends of Cortes Island and Cortes Radio Station buildings to the right – Roy L Hales photo

Able to focus on what we do best

As WCC Director Ashley Zarbatany said, in a recent interview, “For years we struggled to pay our bills due to a lack of stable funding sources. Now, we will be able to focus on what we do best, which is providing services that make our community better.” 

“The SCCA Board of Directors appreciates that the SRD staff were able to respond to the Cortes Community’s  concerns about the Hall Tax funding being delayed,” said Myrna Kerr, President of the SCCA Board of Directors.

Top photo credit: Gorge Hall – Screenshot from Google maps

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