Bad news from their insurer has put the Malakwa Community Centre Association in the precarious position of having to replace the community hall.
The association’s president, Gord Hynek, says their insurance company will no longer provide liability coverage for public use of the structure for fear the roof might collapse. The decision by the insurance company stems from an engineering report which came as a result of structural integrity and snow load issues that had gone unaddressed.
Now the association is looking at options, including potential grants, which Hynek has found aren’t plentiful when it comes to possibly replacing a building.
“There aren’t that many grants for capital projects,” said Hynek. “It’s easier to get grants for programs and that type of thing. To rebuild something, especially a building, that’s what we’re finding, we’re not having any luck with any of that right now.”
Hynek has been a member of the association for two years and was elected president in May 2013. In that time he’s learned that for the past 10 years at least, there have been issues with the roof leaking in up to 20 different places throughout the building, particularly in the spring when the snow melts.
“Finally it got to the point where we need to do something,” said Hynek, explaining the association decided to contact their insurance company to see if they had any coverage for the roof. He says their response was to send out an engineer to investigate the building. Prior to this, however, the association brought in a builder to do some preliminary work. What they found wasn’t reassuring.
“He got a scaffold in and took the soffit off of the ceiling,” said Hynek. “There we could see there’s an obvious dip. Once you see it, you can see it from any angle. It looks like it dips in about eight inches.”
They also found one of the beams that supports the roof to be delaminating.
“So that was just taking a little snapshot of what’s up there,” said Hynek. “I saw it myself, one of the laminated beams was delaminating where it was sinking the most. So we had a structural problem.”
Afterwards, Hynek learned the arched beams tend to move according to the season.
Further investigation found black mould in the insulation, as well as water damage in the drywall in the kitchen/bathroom addition to the hall.
On Aug. 16 the association received the engineer’s report, the bad news confirming Hynek’s concerns.
“Due to water accessing the trusses over a long period of time, it has degraded their ability to operate properly and that… the trusses were actually not built to code originally,” said Hynek. “You don’t have to have (building) codes in the Malakwa area… but insurance companies require that structures be built up to codes to handle snow loads. That also came in the report – the structure is no longer able to withstand the snow loads of the area because of the degradation.”
Hynek says the hall was constructed in the early ’80s with volunteer labour, and he is not optimistic the hall can be repaired/retrofitted to meet code. The next step, however, is to take the issue back to the community. The community association’s next meeting is 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the community hall (Hynek says they are not concerned about using it as there’s currently no snow). Hynek hopes the community will attend as the association will be looking for input on how to proceed.
“We will probably strike up a committee because it takes a lot of work to plan this out and figure out, because there needs to be some money, quite a bit of money to deal with it. And all of that stuff happens slowly,” said Hynek.
Repair or replace
One Malakwa resident who is sure to be at the Malakwa Community Centre Association’s Oct. 24 meeting is Duane Milliken, who argues the hall could be rebuilt with volunteer labour if given the chance.
“Malakwa needs a community centre. It does need it,” said Milliken. “But you don’t have to bulldoze the building and start from scratch with God knows… what it’s going to cost.”
Milliken suggests the building can be repaired as it was built, with volunteer labour and donated materials.
Hynek says the building will not simply be bulldozed, that it houses community services including the local Internet server and the water supply for the fire department – a complication that needs to be addressed. In addition, the interior consists of high quality cedar boards that could be reused. However, he is of the opinion that if the building is replaced, it must be with a structure that meets code.
“We’re not looking for a quick, let’s just throw a bunch of wood on it,” said Hynek. “Now that we have this engineer’s report, no insurance company is going to cover us for a building like that.
“We want something that’s going to last 100 years, not just give us more headaches. We’re looking for quality control on this so we don’t run into the same problem with the building that was constructed in the ’80s as primarily a volunteer project.”
Milliken says he learned about the hall being condemned on TV, following the Sept. 28 referendum, where Malakwa residents voted against funding the maintenance and operation of the former elementary school, which currently serves as the Malakwa Community Learning Centre, through taxation (Milliken was an advocate for the “no” side).
“The TV crew, when they came to Malakwa, phoned my house and asked me to come talk to them, and that’s when they informed me the hall had been condemned…,” said Milliken, who has since received a copy of the engineer’s report.
Milliken claims the community association knew the hall could no longer be insured but had not shared that information prior to the referendum.
“The referendum was held in the hall with the knowledge being held by them that the building had already been condemned. There was ample time to announce the building had been condemned at the meeting before the referendum. And that’s why I feel it was a snowjob,” said Milliken.
Hynek, however, says the engineering report was made public at the community association meeting on Sept. 26, which Milliken did not attend.
“I’ve welcomed him to the next meeting, we would like to hear his input,” said Hynek.