Communities have a range of social, cultural, information, and recreation needs. Strong & healthy communities are built on their capacity to meet these needs and encourage participation, relationships, and create a sense of belonging. Rural community halls are a key piece in meeting a range of the varied needs of our communities. Even though community halls remain a vital part of the County's social fabric, many have experienced a range of issues that affect their sustainability, such as waning community involvement, aging facilities, or decreased revenue.
Council's 2022-2026 Strategic Plan specifically identifies "development of a Community Halls Strategy" as a priority project. This broad strategy will be used to help address the complex issues that affect sustainability & viability of community halls in the County of Barrhead.
Engagement with community hall stakeholders is essential to the development of a Community Halls Strategy. Engagement with community hall members, volunteers, & operators prior to the development of a strategy provides the opportunity to share stakeholder concerns and recommendations regarding viability & sustainability of community halls.
Stakeholders from all 15 community halls in the County of Barrhead were invited to an initial engagement session on October 5, 2022. This session was well attended, with 34 stakeholders representing 13 different community halls, as well as all members of Council and 3 municipal staff. Stakeholders were led through a focused discussion and given the opportunity to share first-hand accounts of the real issues faced by community halls, and identify priorities & goals.
"What We Heard" Report
The "What We Heard" Final Report was compiled from feedback received during the October 5, 2022 engagement session. From November 1-14, 2022, the draft report was circulated to Community Hall Stakeholders for comment, to ensure that engagement session discussion was accurately & completely reflected in the report. The "What We Heard" Report was accepted by Council on December 6, 2022.
Community Halls Strategy
Our next step is to focus on development of the Community Halls Strategy. This will include a framework for assessing solutions & recommendations, lay out various roles & responsibilities, and identify timelines & costs. A further public engagement session with community hall stakeholders will be required upon completion of the DRAFT Community Halls Strategy. The DRAFT Community Halls Strategy will also go through a validation process before it is presented to Council and becomes a public document.
The Community Halls Strategy will become a fundamental guiding document for the County of Barrhead & give clear direction for future decisions regarding community halls.