The old B.C. government building was demolished last week after the District of Vanderhoof deemed it economically irreparable earlier this year.
The building, located on the corner of Victoria and Church Street, has been around since the early 1950s, and was used for provincial government purposes before becoming a community space about 20 years ago.
The district-owned building had a number of different community groups using it when the District was forced to put it out of action when the furnace broke during this past winter.
Notably it was used for recreational art programs for kids, as the headquarters for Vanderhoof Search and Rescue, Nechako Valley Community Theatre and the Figure Skating Club.
The district had a number of building inspectors check out the building before deciding not to attempt any repairs or renovations.
“There were a number of concerns with it including there being asbestos in the building … it required us to make a decision that it was not a building that we would be able to work with and that the sooner that we distance ourselves from it and look for other options the better,” said Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
Before the building could be torn down, all the asbestos had to be removed from inside the structure.
While most of the community groups using it have managed to find temporary meeting places and storage for equipment, many are still worried and keen to find a more temporary solution.
“We don’t have anything in place,” said Annerose Georgeson, a key user of the space and the director for recreational arts program – Arts Umlimited.
She says a number of users will be going along to the next council meeting to emphasis the need for a new space.
“We’re going to meet with the district at the beginning of the next meeting on July 20 … to tell the district exactly what our needs are.
“I think they sort of think that we’re okay but we’re not – we have very temporary storage, but operating space is the main problem,” said Georgeson.
Requirements for a new space have been highlighted to the district before in a letter written by the users of the old government building a number of months ago.
Notable requirements for a new community space included arts space with sinks, a gallery space and board room, four individual artist studio spaces with good natural light, a kiln room, a heated car bay for the NVSR rescue vehicle, storage rooms, and a stage among other things.
In the letter, building users expressed their desire for a new, shared community centre.
“The cultural services we provide to Vanderhoof are diverse, and important, and we do this with minimum need for annual support,” it said in the letter.
While the decision has been made to strike a committee to come up with solutions for a new space, so far nothing has been done.
Tom Clement, a member of staff with the district says a decision has not yet been made about what to do with the land left behind after the building was torn down.
“It’s going to be left alone for the moment … there are no plans at this point to do anything with it,” said Clement.
I would expect that we would have some discussions in an upcoming meeting … but it wouldn’t be in this years budget so it would be for next years budget,” he added.