Home News by Region Metchosin Metchosin: almost $1 million to refurbish old school into community center

Metchosin: almost $1 million to refurbish old school into community center

Multi-purpose community space to include stage/theatre, indoor sports floor, and kitchen.

metchosin, municipal hall
Metchosin Municipal Hall is on Happy Valley Road next to the fire hall. [District of Metchosin]

Tuesday August 10, 2021 | METCHOSIN, BC

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

“This is the most important grant we’ve ever received,” said District of Metchosin Mayor John Ranns today about the nearly $1 million that the municipality has received from the combined federal-provincial COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure program as announced today.

For a long while, the Metchosin community had hoped for a community center that would cover off a wide range of services and functions to the community, and now it can come true!

“We don’t normally get grants like that,” Ranns told Island Social Trends today, still quite excited after the official announcement by Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne at 9 am. Along with federal MP Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam) on behalf of Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna, the joint provincial-federal grants under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream initiative were rolled out.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns

For Metchosin the 80/20 grant (federal/provincial) provides $755,681 federal and $188,922 from the province of BC, for a total of $944,603. That’s almost a million bucks, which is equivalent to about half of the annual District of Metchosin budget. Once in a lifetime sort of thing.

The list is long for what will be done at the old school that was being used as a technical school by SD62 until a few years ago. “We had a vision when we bought it, but never dreamed we could realize it,” said Ranns. And now it’s a reality.

The biggest goal within the project is to develop a multi-use space in the former school gymnasium to include uses for a theatre (with a stage, and room to seat about 200 people) and indoor sports activities. Mayor Ranns says they’re aiming for “the broadest use possible” for that large indoor space.

A big expense will be the floor which will need to be ultra-durable. There is also the installation of solar panels to be done (for energy self-sufficiency and reliability during power outages), as well as HVAC and a modern kitchen.

The grant application was prepared for the District of Saanich by Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop together with Sherry Epp.

Some of the other uses intended for the building once it’s up and running as a community center will include use of the former classroom spaces for training, including emergency training by various organizations including the Justice Institute of BC, as well as for first responders such as police and fire.

john ranns, lillian szpak, russ chipps
Working alongside other communities: At UBCM September 25, 2017 (from left): Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak, Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns [photo by Mary Brooke – West Shore Voice News]

Ranns has been mayor of the expansive rural community with its small population (presently still around 4,800) since 1987. That’s 34 years of municipal leadership, so he knows the lay of the land and the community trends. Since COVID there has been a bit of a natural population boost (babies), and people are keen to operate small businesses in the district (like machine shops, storage and trucking).

About 93% of the municipality’s tax revenues come from residential property owners. So they’re careful with their money, says Ranns, who explains that the municipality has a principle of never going into debt. All expenditures are done with cash, with funds held in presently 18 reserves until needed for designated projects (e.g. equipment, fire hall, policing and general). “That way reserves are sufficient for when costs come due,” he said. Ranns is particularly proud of the condition of the roadways in his municipality; by regularly keeping them in good condition that reduces the need for sudden or urgent maintenance.

For the big expenditures for the new Community Center project (over $25,000) for things like the gym floor replacement, installation of the HVAC, emergency lighting, kitchen and setting up acoustics for the theatre, those will go through a bid process to receive at least three quotes. The services of local businesses will be used where possible, says Ranns, who says that’s usually the most cost effective.

All in all, this has been one of the biggest days in a long while for the District of Metchosin which prides itself on self-sufficiency and resilience.

The joint provincial-federal grants under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream initiative to all 21 recipients on Vancouver Island total to over $12 million.

Josie Osborne
BC Minister of Municipal Affairs, Josie Osborne

“By investing in public infrastruture we are building healthy, vibrant and connected communities and improving people’s quality of life as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Josie Osborne today. She noted how the grant will, for Metchosin, assist in the municipality’s development of a new multi-use facility “to bring the community together”.

Many of the projects announced today had a strong Indigenous community support component. Mayor Ranns spoke highly today of the ongoing positive working relationship with the Beecher Bay First Nation whose community will also be able to make use of the new facility in Metchosin.

Other projects:

Other projects covered by the federal-provincial grant funding that was announced today include a $383,352 recycling depot infrastructure upgrade on Galiano Island to improve COVID-19 safety (retractable walls so public can physically-distance when dropping off waste & recycling), and a pedestrian trail on Salt Spring Island including winter-time usability for $90,127. As well, Colwood received a grant of $1.015 million grant to construct a buffered bike lane and sidewalk along a section of Metchosin Road.

dumont tirecraft, summer

===== RELATED:

The next District of Metchosin council meeting is coming up on Monday August 16, 2021 at 7 pm, via Zoom.

Effective September 20, 2021 the District of Metchosin will begin to hold in-person Council and Committee meetings in Council Chambers (after having held meetings online during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and into this year). The number of public attendees will be limited to 18 for a total of 25 persons including Council and staff. 

Island Social Trends, subscriptions, banner
Digital subscribers receive a digest of news posts and additional editorial content.