The Willoughby Community Hall could use a bit of help from some of the new residents of the fast-growing neighbourhood.
For almost a century, the hall has stood near 208th Street just off of 83rd Avenue.
Arne Mykle, president of the hall society, remembers when there was a gas station down the road and a small corner grocery store across the street.
Now 208th Street has row after row of townhouses and condos under construction, a growing shopping plaza, and thousands of new residents within walking distance.
Yet few of those residents are joining the hall society, Mykle said.
“It’s well used,” Mykle said of the hall, “and we’re quite pleased with the rental side of things.”
The hall hosts weddings and receptions, dance practises and Scouts Canada events, dinners and charity fundraisers.
But Mykle would like to expand the hall’s shrinking membership, and bring in a few new people as directors, to ensure the hall has a solid foundation for the future.
“Many of us directors are between the ages of 70 and 80 years old,” he said.
There are 54 members of the hall’s society at present, Mykle said.
“Membership is not onerous,” Mykle said. “It’s $5 a year.”
Most of the upkeep is done by the hall manager, but directors and members have been known to do some painting and light work themselves.
“There are work parties, from time to time,” said Mykle.
For most of the hall’s history, it has served a local population in the low thousands. Since the early 2000s, the population of Willoughby has ballooned to more than 30,000, and it is expected to keep growing. The expected population by 2041 could be as many as 80,000 people.
Mykle is confident that the society can keep the hall’s continuity intact, to take care of it for generations to come.
The hall has undergone some major structural changes in the last few years.
Due to the expanding neighbourhood and widening streets around it, it was given a major renovation thanks to a deal with a nearby developer.
In 2013 the old hall was lifted up and moved slightly, it acquired a parking lot, and it got a new basement and a full concrete foundation for the first time.
The old foundation? Cedar logs laid down in the 1920s.
After the renovation, the hall opened again in the spring of 2014.
It wasn’t the first time the hall has been upgraded. It initially resembled a barn with windows on one side and simple clapboard siding. It now also includes a kitchen, concrete wheelchair ramps, and most recently added air conditioning.
Anyone interested in membership can call the hall manager at 604-888-3901.