It’s something we all knew was coming. While there’s a sadness about it ending, it’s perhaps outweighed by the excitement of the birth of a new era and the promise of what’s to come.
We’re talking of course, about the Selkirk Arena – better known as The Barn – and Memorial Hall, both Selkirk institutions that have served the community exceptionally well for multiple decades.
And while they are still in use at this moment, planning has begun in earnest to decommission both and determine what will live on in their place.
Reminiscing of the good times
Mayor Larry Johannson said he has fond memories of Memorial Hall and The Barn, dating back to when he was a kid growing up in Selkirk and then later in life when he coached hockey and took his own sons and daughter to skate.
“Boy do I have memories of The Barn. It was where I went as a kid, it’s where I took my own kids and coached hockey. And Memorial Hall, I couldn’t even begin to try and count the number of times I’ve been to a social there or been to an event. They’ve been a part of my life for all of my life,” Johannson said.
“And those memories will be with me forever, but it’s time to look to the future and what we can put there now for the next generation of Selkirk residents to grow up with. The possibilities are endless and I know we’re going to come out of this with something fantastic.”
Years in the making
The City of Selkirk’s 2016 Recreation Master Strategy provides a long-term vision for recreation in the city and recommended the development of a downtown, multi-purpose facility/community hall likely to be located at the site of the arena and hall. In preparation for this, 2018 Selkirk council established a reserve fund to start putting money away for the future construction of a new recreation facility within the community.
Brady Clark, Director of Culture, Recreation and Green Transportation, said the city has hired Republic Architecture to do a feasibility assessment to replace the two buildings and is seeking public input to help determine what is wanted and needed by the community.
“There’s hundreds of options of what you can have in a facility, as far as layout and design goes, but I think what’s really important is drawing out what the community needs,” Clark said.
“We’re working from our Strategic Plan, which calls for the city to provide the best possible recreation opportunities for residents, and our Recreation Master Strategy, which directs us to engage the public in determining what’s needed in a multi-purpose facility. That’s the stage we’re at and we’re excited to hear what people want in this space.”
Building what the community needs
Chief Administrative Officer Duane Nicol said when the Recreation Master Strategy was done in 2016, there was broad community consultation at that time and it was recognized, both by the public and within the pages of the Strategy that the Barn and Memorial Hall were at the end of their useable life.
“The replacement of these two facilities is really a fulfillment of a key element of the Recreation Master strategy. They’re 70-plus years old and the recreation needs of the community have evolved over time,” Nicol said.
“The feasibility assessment and the public engagement are about envisioning the sorts of services that we as a community want for ourselves.”
Clark said whatever ends up in the space will be a multi-use facility.
Making the most of the space
The city has begun meeting one-on-one with current user groups and will reach out to others in the community about their possible involvement.
“There are a number of community organizations that are in other facilities that might not be working for them any longer whether they’ve simply outgrown them or the building is aging, so we’d like to explore the possibility of bringing some of these groups together to enhance their service,” Nicol said.
“That’s the conversation we want to have, we have a pretty large canvas that we can paint on here.”
That said, the feasibility assessment will determine what’s possible and what’s not, from a financial point of view.
“It will provide us with that reality check. While it would be nice to have some things, the community can tell us how they use our current facilities and what their needs are,” Clark said.
“Some things may be out of reach, but we’ll have a better understanding of the wants and needs and what is expected of us to provide better services. “
Can’t forget our history
Nicol said the city is also interested in hearing about people’s special memories about the Barn and Memorial Hall.
“These buildings are part of our heritage and as part of our eventual transition to something new, we want to ensure we find ways to honour these facilities. We want to hear about people’s memories related to these places to ensure we find just the right ways to pay tribute to the history and special moments made within their walls,” he said.
There will be multiple opportunities for people to participate in the process. Information will be coming on open houses and there will be an online survey and paper copies will be available at locations throughout the city.
How to get your voice heard
It’s important for residents to sign up for CitizenVoice to be able to participate in the online surveys – only those who are registered prior to the survey going out can participate.
“When we were looking for input for the development of the city’s first enclosed off-leash dog park we had incredible interest and response,” Clark said.
“But many more people missed out because they weren’t signed up for CitizenVoice before the survey. It’s important that people sign up in advance.”
Citizens of Selkirk can register for CitizenVoice at myselkirk.ca/citizenvoice