Councillor backs heritage status for Willow Point Hall

There’s new life to the Willow Point Lions Club’s efforts to get their hall on the city’s Heritage Register

There’s new life to the Willow Point Lions Club’s efforts to get their hall on the city’s Heritage Register.

Tom McKenzie has been spearheading a campaign to obtain heritage status for the Willow Point Lions Community Hall for more than a year.

He says the hall has a rich history and it holds a significant place in Campbell River’s storied past.

Coun. Larry Samson agrees and at a council meeting Sept. 18, he announced his intention to bring forth a motion at next week’s council meeting to get the Willow Point Hall on the Heritage Register, which was created in 2008 and has only one property on it – the Sybil Andrews Cottage.

That was welcome news to McKenzie.

“I called everyone on council, even the new ones, and I talked to Larry and he took the ball and ran with it for me,” he said. “They’re all for it now and there’s no reason not to be. It doesn’t cost the city anything.”

It’s been a long and bumpy road for McKenzie.

He started the process of securing heritage status for the hall in May 2011 by asking the community for any old photos or clippings from the Willow Point Hall’s glory days.

A motion to grant the hall a place on the Heritage Register went before council in June 2011 but it was shot down.

“It’s an interesting proposal but I’m not prepared to support it at this time,” said Coun. Andy Adams at the time. “I would want to see…what holds value before putting it on the Community Heritage Register.”

Council was hesitant to move forward because a critical piece of information, a Statement of Significance, was not yet complete.

Now McKenzie said he has a two-page document describing the history of the hall – a facility built in 1939 by mostly volunteers.

It opened its doors in 1940 and hosted concerts, funerals and socials.

“We’ve done a ton of research on it,” McKenzie said. “I have papers that go back to 1939 such as minutes and financial records from the Willow Point Community Club’s regular meetings.”

He also has a binder full of old photos and newspaper clippings.

In 1986 the Willow Point Lions Club took over ownership of the building from the Willow Point Community Club.

Today, the hall is rented out nearly every single day for things like dances, weddings, and churches services.

McKenzie said at $20 an hour, it’s one of the cheapest venues to rent in town.

McKenzie wants to get the hall on the Heritage Register so he can apply for heritage grant funding to upgrade the hall.

The hall needs a new foundation, a new roof, and upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms. It also needs work in order to be preserved.

“We want to take it back to what it was originally,” McKenzie said. “We want to have cedar siding and a dark brown roof so it looks like shingles.”