What started out as a school house is now an upgraded community hub for residents of Casino.
The community hall in Casino, just outside of Trail, has just completed a $50,000 addition of a main floor bathroom and an upgrade to its in-house kitchen.
Two years ago, the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary and the Columbia Basin Trust came together to fund the renovations, making the community hall an accessible and up-to-date centre for the people who live in the rural community about 10 kilometres outside Trail.
Linda Worley, director for Area ‘B’, says the work is all about recognizing a need in smaller, rural communities in the area.
“The hall is part of the Casino family,” she said while sitting in the building’s main hall. “It is a rural community that doesn’t have access to Trail all the time, and this is where the people of Casino come and meet, celebrate and host functions. It was important to maintain the integrity of the building and that is what we did.”
The CBT initially promised to match whatever funds the community could come up with, and with such a small population, the RDKB stepped in with a $25,000 grant.
Having a community centre is vital to the survival of rural residents, and Lori Rieberger with Casino Recreation, says the building acts as a meeting place for neighbours.
“Some people use the hall for a party, instead of their own living room,” she said. “It is a social centre for the community. Sometimes people just come during the week to watch a fight night and play pool. Most houses out here are on a bit of an acreage, so you don’t really get a chance to see your neighbours all the time.”
Darrel Rieberger, also with Casino Recreation, believes the facility brings residents to a central spot where they can socialize and even meet for the first time.
“It brings the community together,” he said. “Otherwise, it is just a wave while you are passing each other on the road.”
In the kitchen, updates included all new counter tops, a new double oven, new cupboards and doubling the counter space. The renovations will make it easier for the people cooking for events, and safer as well.
“We used to have two old ovens in here and no counters (on one side of the kitchen),” said Lori.
The addition of a bathroom on the main floor of the building was a major move towards making the building accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
“We already had bathrooms, but they were downstairs and not accessible,” said Lori.
“We already had a wheelchair ramp made, but the goal was the make the whole inside of the hall accessible to everyone and the main floor washroom facilitated that vision. There are still bits and bobs left to do, but it is pretty much complete.”
The hall is used for community events throughout the year, and can even be rented out by Casino residents for celebrations like a retirement or graduation. The facility is open to anyone in the Casino area to use.
“Every Christmas we have a community dinner, and then throughout the summer, we have barbecues,” said Lori. “We also host retirement parties and we also have exercise equipment in the basement.”
The construction was completed in December 2014, after nearly two years of planning and work.
There will be a grand opening ceremony sometime in April, officially opening the facility to members of the community.