Opinion

Community halls need a boost to keep going

Langley Township’s heritage advisory committee is tackling a subject that needs to be talked about — how to keep community halls thriving.

Langley has many such community halls, with most built by volunteers in a simpler era. Despite or perhaps because of the rapid growth of the community, these halls continue to be well-utilized.

Yet the organizations that own and operate them are made up primarily of older people, who have kept the halls going for years, yet do not have the energy or resources to take on all the tasks which are required to keep a community building thriving.

Sometimes, as recently happened with Willoughby Hall, a nearby developer has stepped in to help upgrade and modernize the facility. The new Willoughby Hall will be able to serve the community well for many years.

As a press release from the Township notes,  “Halls are part of the fabric of our community, offering places to gather, learn, celebrate, mourn, worship, and keep fit.”

The heritage advisory committee is hosting a hall societies workshop that will help support the long-term survival of the community’s halls by collecting and documenting information on how local halls are run, funded, and maintained, how volunteers are engaged, and how resources are utilized.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, May 6, at Milner Church hall, 6716 – 216 Street, from 7 to  9 p.m.

Local historian and author Jane Watt, who has a very keen understanding of how Langley Township has come together over the years, will facilitate the workshop.

She notes that some halls are struggling to keep up, often due to the aging and diminishing number of volunteers who keep them going.

The Coghlan hall on 256 Street has suffered from a lack of volunteers. The Glen Valley hall on River Road still stands, but hasn’t been open for years and likely won’t last much  longer.

The Patricia hall on 264 Street has been sold to a private owner. The Milner Church hall, Fort Langley, Murrayville, Walnut Grove, Harmsworth and Willoughby halls are all active, but even they have challenges.

Many other buildings, such as service club halls and churches, also act as community gathering spaces, and in some cases, they face the same challenges.

As Watt notes, these types of facilities “offer inexpensive local places where people can gather and interact.”

The Township hopes that people keeping these halls running will offer insight into   the opportunities and challenges associated with maintaining these buildings.

“Langley was built on co-operation, working together, looking out for each other,” Watt said. “That’s what we want to capture and enhance in our halls workshop and in the halls sourcebook that we will create as a ‘go-to’ document for hall volunteers.”

Those interested in taking part should  RSVP to the Township’s community development division at 604-533-6154 by April 30.

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