A 2014 photo of the miners’ hall shows how the balcony has been modified over the years.

A 2014 photo of the miners’ hall shows how the balcony has been modified over the years.

Miners’ union hall restoration planned

Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC) last week received written news confirming their successful grant application of $13,000

  • Dec. 22, 2014 5:00 p.m.

Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC) last week received written news confirming their successful grant application of $13,000 from BC Heritage’s Heritage Legacy Funds. These funds will go towards a larger restoration and maintenance project which contractors for the RCAC renovation committee estimate will cost around $977,300.

The miners’ union hall is an inspiring part of history being home to one of the first miner’s unions in North America. The hall is a provincially designated heritage site officially heritage listed in August 1983. It is for this reason that RCAC would like to restore the grand edifice.

“Rossland Miners’ Union Hall is valued as a monument to the Rossland Miners Union No. 38 local of the Western Federation of Miners, the first metalliferous mine’s union local in B.C. and one of the most influential and successful unions in the history of the province. Built in 1898, this historic place was the central organization point for the Miners’ Union, whose fight for just and safe labour conditions at the end of the nineteenth-century led to the legislation of the eight-hour work day,” reads the BC Heritage Branch property file.

In 2013 the RCAC renovation committee first approached the city of Rossland council making a presentation on their plans for a green room in the underutilized attic, located on the fourth floor of the miners hall. After discussing plans, both parties agreed that efficiencies could be gained by undertaking the restoration projects and the city’s maintenance simultaneously.

City works staff has identified that maintenance work needs to be carried out by 2016. This historic building is one of B.C.’s oldest surviving miners’ union halls and the building has not had renovation work carried out since the early 1980’s.

“The situation should not wait any longer than 2016, things are deteriorating and should be looked at…The roof has some issues, the outside needs new paint,” said Renate Fleming, RCAC Chair about the city’s findings.

The chimney has also been identified as in need of removal due to its inconvenience to performers. Once performers exit the stage they move either stage left or stage right, but to cross between the two performers have to run around the outside of the building as the chimney blocks the passage way.

Ann Dumude, who is one of the five members on the RCAC’s renovation committee, explains the project can be separated into various components. The project has four parts: the building envelope, façade restoration, entry plaza and attic level reclamation. Construction dates are dependent upon securing funding.  RCAC’s original goal was to begin construction in the summer of 2015. “At this point, a summer 2016 start date is more realistic,” she said.

“This is the biggest thing we have ever tackled,” Dumude said. “RCAC is fortunate to have the City working with them and an experienced heritage architect, Thomas Loh, on board so they can move the project work forward in the best interest of the community and the historic building values,” she explained further.

The next steps for the committee will be to timeline further community consultation and approach potential funders. “We need to receive more feedback so we can integrate suggestions into the design of the space,” said Fleming.

The Miners’ Hall is used year-round as a space for weddings, funerals, concerts, performances, markets and many more activities; it has become the town’s defacto community centre. The building still has potential to attract more users through developing the space in consultation with existing users and the wider community.

The concept proposes a green room for the attic — the green room would occupy approximately a quarter of the fourth floor. Due to the ceiling rafters, a lot of the attic can only be used for storage however; it has been identified that the miners’ hall lacks storage and this would be a benefit to many of the user groups.

The proposed entry plaza would see a remodelling of the forecourt to improve safety, drainage and to create a historically compatible, aesthetically pleasing gateway to the miners’ hall. $68,400 has been budgeted for this component and would create a space that fits with the theme of the miners’ hall and allows for patrons to mingle before, during, and after events.

Regardless of whether or not the RCAC raises the required amount of funding, the city’s maintenance component will still have to go ahead. The city has an amount of approximately $280,000 in the miners’ hall reserve fund.