As 2023 draws to a conclusion, it’s time to look back over the year and review the highlights, the challenges and – why not? – also our successes.

The primary focus for the Board this year has been guiding the project for the Lund Gathering Place forward to a point where the completion date is now in sight – April, 2024, we hope! At the beginning of the year we had selected a local architectural firm, Architrave Design and Build, to create a design that fulfilled our vision of an outdoor community space. Now, at the end of the year, after publishing an invitation to tender in The Sounder, we have selected a local general contractor, James Strobl Construction Ltd., to bring that design into reality. It was important to us that a community project like this involve Gabriolan companies and trades people in the limits of the possible and we are happy that the proposals we received from local companies made the decision to select them not only consistent with this desire to go local but was also the right choice in terms of value for money. Jim notes “The crew and I are excited to have won the successful bid to build the Lund Gathering Place. After 45 years of working on Gabriola, we are honoured to have the opportunity to be involved in building a lasting legacy for the community. It’s awesome that the Community Hall has found funding to build this beautiful structure.”

GICHA President, Joyce Babula, and Jim Strobl sign the contract for the Lund Gathering Place at Joyce’s kitchen table

It has been a long and winding road that we have travelled since June of 2021 when we received notification that our grant application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream had been successful. The first steps began with the information gathering essential to the design process as envisaged by our proposal. A property survey was done; an arboriculture assessment completed followed by the removal of dead, diseased or dangerous trees. We initiated a formal consultation process with the Snuneymuxw First Nation, ascertaining that there was no objection to the siting of the structure and continuing to dialogue throughout the evolution of the project. Another important step was an outreach effort via personal meetings and letters with the neighbours in the immediate vicinity to inform them of our plans and seek their input. Similarly, we engaged with a variety of community groups and individuals representing potential users of the space such as the choir, performers, theatre groups, artists, non-profits asking again for input. We reviewed the current planning criteria for the Regional District of Nanaimo and Islands Trust and made a shortlist of three potential sites for the structure. Issues such as the parking lot configuration required consultation with MOTI; a variance to setback requirements discussed with IT; we explored legal concerns about the amalgamation of the two legal lots owned by the Hall. All this information needed to be clarified and processed before moving on to requesting proposals for architectural services – which brings us back to the beginning of this year.

Architectural rendering

Obviously, since the project and budget were worked on at the end of 2020 in the first year of COVID, rising costs and inflation have taken a significant toll and we have had to make some hard choices regarding which design features to complete now and which to delay for a second phase. The requirements for our current CVRIS grant will be met and be on budget with the scope of work contracted with Jim Strobl. However, the green roof, which is one of the aspects that makes Architrave’s design so beautiful and eco-friendly, was not in our original application and will have to wait on additional funds being raised, as will some of the landscaping and some of the special features inside the space such as lighting, moveable walls, screens etc. We have already applied for grants to undertake this second phase, however our success is anything but guaranteed – can lightning strike twice?

So, once again, we appeal to the generosity and community spirit of Gabriola. Architrave has gone way above and beyond in bringing this community asset to fruition, donating an incredible amount of time to create a wonderful, innovative and functional structure. Similarly, Laura-Jean Kelly of Topographics who was instrumental in the early phases, donated much time to the project. Bob Rooks also has been extremely generous in donating his company’s services and will continue to do so when we begin to excavate the foundations. We have received a $10,000 donation from a community member who wishes to remain anonymous that will be used in this second phase. And of course, we can’t put a price on the volunteer hours that have gone into this project but I do need to give a special shout-out to our volunteer project manager, Graham MacDonald, without whose skill, expertise and dedication we would have struggled to reach this point.

All this to emphasize that this is a community initiative so I hope, as we’re approaching year end and thoughts turn towards tax receipts, that you will keep the Hall in mind when you’re considering donations. You could send a cheque to Gabriola Community Hall Association, PO Box 205, Gabriola Island BC V0R 0X0 or donate online here (tax receipts will follow):

We are always grateful for the support and goodwill of our community. A particular thank you goes to our renters whose continued usage of the Hall – and their willingness to make the space fit their needs and their flexibility when their schedule is bumped to allow the vaccination clinics to take place – provides much of the operational funding to keep our doors open. Thank you for your support!

A reminder that a great Gabriolan Christmas tradition takes place at the Hall tomorrow at 2.30pm when the Gabriola Singers present their Christmas Concert. Tickets are $15 at the door.

And once again PHC will work their magic on Christmas Day at the Hall with the Annual Spirit Feast. All are welcome to enjoy a delicious meal complete with the company of friends and neighbours. Let PHC know if you’d like to attend – it’s FREE!

Our heartfelt thanks!
Happy Holidays and enjoy a well deserved time to rest and reflect on the year gone by – again, like no other!



Joyce Babula, President
On behalf of the Board of Directors


Garland image by pikisuperstar on Freepik