There’s a changing of the guard but a strong legacy will continue.
The District of Coldstream will take over ownership of the Coldstream Women’s Institute Hall on Kalamalka Road Jan. 2.
“The decision to sell the hall was difficult and emotionally charged,” said Shirley Libby, Women’s Institute director.
“An aging and dwindling membership left the work of managing and maintaining the building to the same few.”
Renting the hall allowed the group to pay utilities and support many charities but Libby says escalating rental problems led to a decision to sell a year earlier than planned.
“We will honour bookings we have until Dec. 30,” she said.
“No doubt as that time approaches, we’ll have a range of emotions.”
The Coldstream Women’s Institute was incorporated in 1931 and the hall opened in 1935.
“It’s been a gathering place for years and it’s been a place to build the community around,” said Mayor Jim Garlick of weddings, funerals, anniversaries, dances, Guide and Scout meetings and various forums.
“I would like to thank the Women’s Institute members for their work over the years managing and maintaining their hall.”
The municipality will establish policies to operate the hall, but it’s not expected that there will be any short-term change in the facility or public access.
“The hall has been used extensively and we expect to make more use of it for community groups,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.
The hall was recently at the focus of a dispute when the Women’s Institute decided not to rent the hall to the Winter Farmers Market because of scheduling conflicts and concerns such as traffic safety.
Market organizers expressed concern to the district about the situation, but when asked if purchasing the hall was influenced by the dispute, Garlick said, “It’s completely separate.”
Garlick says there is no guarantee of who the district will lease the hall out to.
“Any groups wishing to rent will have to meet the policies and pay the appropriate fee,” he said.
Long-term, the district will develop a plan for the property and whether a new structure will eventually be needed.
Garlick suggests that fundraising could be targeted for any future construction.
The district has purchased the property for $310,000.
“That is consistent with the other sales around that area,” said Garlick.
While the hall has been sold, the Coldstream Women’s Institute will continue as an organization and will still support scholarships and charities.
“The Women’s Institute motto is For Home and Country. It has been our raison d’être. We are proud of our service and work in our community,” said Libby.