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Willow Point Lions cook up kitchen reno

Restoration of Willow Point Hall gets a boost from New Horizons for Seniors grant

The Willow Point Lions are working through the summer to restore their hall to its former glory.

A complete overhaul of the 75-year-old Willow Point Hall’s kitchen began a week ago and is expected to last until early September.

The renos involve new shelving, two ovens, a bar and hand wash station, new floors, new walls and a new ceiling.

“It’s an all new interior,” said Tom McKenzie, president of the Willow Point Lions Club, Wednesday afternoon as construction was in full swing.

Contractors from D.A.D.S. Homes were working on a new roof over the kitchen as McKenzie was pulling up boards inside.

“There were three roofs on there, each one would start leaking and they would patch it with another one,” McKenzie said. “That’s how they did things back then.”

The kitchen project is costing the Lions $50,000 but half of that is being paid for with a $25,000 federal New Horizons grant.

McKenzie said the remaining funds were raised by the Lions themselves, mostly through running bars for weddings and other events.

McKenzie said it’s money well spent.

“It’ll change the way people think about the hall,” he said. “It’ll help with rentals. The kitchen is a big thing. When people come by for a tour, they like to see a nice kitchen.

The Lions have benefited from several companies working on the project including Pat Rosse Plumbing, Alpine Gas, North Island Electric and General Paints.

McKenzie said he hopes the work will pay off in the long run.

“It shows a commitment to the community in fixing up the hall.”

And if the Lions have their way, there will be more to come.

The group has plans to replace the entire roof, which will cost $40,000, but there’s a catch.

“The roof has to be a similar look to what you’d have with the old shake roof,” said McKenzie, because of the heritage status given to the hall in 2012 by the city.

The Lions also want to jack up the hall and lay a new foundation.

The flooring along the side of the hall which faces Highway 19A noticeably slopes downward because the foundation is slowly being washed away by rain that runs down from the raised sidewalk.

The Lions are hoping that the heritage status granted to the hall will make those renovations a reality as it will allow the club to apply for federal and provincial heritage grants as they become available.

The Willow Point Hall, which was the second property to make the Community Heritage Register, was built in 1939 and opened its doors in 1940.

The hall was purchased by the Willow Point Lions Club in 1986 and since that time has hosted several weddings, scouts and brownie meetings, political gatherings, church services,  plays, dances and anniversaries.