As the sun went down over Spud Valley Aug. 25, roughly a dozen Pembertonians gathered around a picnic table inside the Downtown Community Barn for a brainstorming session about future uses of the new open-air facility.
The barn officially opened on July 16 and has been used by the Pemberton Farmers' Market throughout the summer, but has been virtually unused otherwise.
Community members at the evening meeting, which was arranged by the Village of Pemberton, proposed various ideas for the space. Ideas ranged from holding exercise classes to installing an ice rink to design changes to make the space more dynamic.
Resident Robert Meilleur said he would like to see a curling rink installed for use during winter months.
"I am a fanatic of curling and the last couple of years I have been driving down to Squamish," he said.
He said the Pemberton Winterfest Committee has a set of rocks that could be used and Squamish may have an artificial ice refrigeration plant available when the rink there is upgraded.
Trish Belsham, with the Pemberton Arts Council, would like to see more movement incorporated into the look of the space.
"What can be brought to it that is very ... feminine, like windsocks and things that move," she said. She also suggested a huge banner could be placed over the entrance of the barn both to advertise it and add movement to the static look of the post and beam structure.
Long time Pemberton resident Saad Hasan said he isn't entirely sure what should take place in the barn, but is excited by its potential.
"I love it. Overall I would like to see ... something that is year round, something that involves Pemberton tourism and something that is used both for the community and for the guests coming here," he said.
"I am a huge proponent of bringing people into your town centre."
One thing most everyone in attendance agreed was that the facility needs some kind of organized group to oversee event bookings and to do the paperwork for potential grants and funds that may be accessed.
"To have our ideas, our vision — whether it be hosting a Christmas gala or curling — how do you get money to do that, how do we make this happen? Really, it takes somebody who is heading and in charge of an organization, and not doing it off the side of the desk," said Dawn Johnson, executive director of the Stewardship Pemberton Society, a non-profit environmental-education community group. She said her experience with forming the stewardship society has led her to believe the barn needs not only a group, but also a paid employee to do the grunt work.
Usage of the barn is currently governed by the Village of Pemberton's park-use bylaw, but it lacks the resources and funds to promote or run the facility. At the July 8 council meeting, councillors agreed to consider a staff recommendation to turn over the barn's management to a new, registered, not-for-profit group made up of local stakeholders.
Whatever group eventually takes over governance of the barn would likely be able set its own fees, and determine what types of events would be permitted.
Caroline Lamont, manager of development services for Pemberton, represented the village at the meeting and will present a report of the barn usage and governance suggestions at the next council meeting Sept. 2.
-with files from Eric MacKenzie
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