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Insurance covers Sophiasburgh Town Hall

By Ross Lees
While council had questioned the cost of their insurance at a recent budget meeting, they found out Tuesday night that it sometimes pays to have good insurance.
The collapse of the ceiling at the Sophiasburgh Town Hall at Demorestville – fortunately when no one was in the facility – caused extensive damage and will be costly to refurbish.
Frank Wright, of  W.H. Williamson and Co., was at council Tuesday night to assure council the building was covered.
Councillor Kevin Gale asked what would be covered. “Are we talking all the contents like tables, chairs, the floor, the curtains and the paintings?”
Wright was quick to put council fears to rest.
“Everything will be put back to the state it was in before the loss,” he said.
The issue had been put on the agenda by Brian Marisett, who was concerned about similar circumstances happening at some of the other buildings owned by council.
Commissioner of Recreation, Parks and Culture Barry Braun indicated that immediately following the incident the previous week, staff had visited every community hall and museum to make sure nothing similar could occur.
In responding to Marisett’s concerns, Braun noted these were visual inspections and that any complete structural reviews would have to be done by an engineer – at a cost the municipality.
Councillor Alec Lunn said a staff review would be good for now, depending on what the staff found in their inspection.  Braun noted a visual inspection may not have uncovered the problem at the Demorestville facility.
He said no hazardous material like asbestos had been found in the building, although a “minor” amount of lead paint had been discovered and the contractors repairing the facility were aware of it.
Repairs are to begin Thursday and Braun speculated it would take about a week to clean up.
Councillor Gale asked if materials like cellulose would be salvaged by the contractors.
Braun answered that “they will salvage what is salvageable.”
A motion was passed that a staff report come back to council regarding the inspection of the facilities regarding any integrity problems.

Ceiling collapses at Sophiasburgh Town Hall

The ceiling of the Sophiasburgh Town Hall at Demorestville collapsed yesterday afternoon between 12:30 and 4 p.m.

ceiling collapsed at town hall Demorestville

This photograph, taken through the window of the Town Hall at Demorestville, shows the rubble from the ceiling piled high.

“The ceiling just gave way,” said Barry Braun, commissioner of Recreation, Parks and Culture. “We have arranged for an engineer to look at it tomorrow morning and provide some insight into the cause and the current integrity of the building.”

Terry Shortt, of Shortt Electric, was on the scene Wednesday to disconnect power to the hall.

Inside the town hall at Demorestville

Inside the town hall at Demorestville.

All of the County’s halls had been identified as having fire code issues but Sophiasburgh’s, Braun said, had only minimal problems such as exit lights.

Groups currently using the building as a meeting place have been contacted with alternative arrangements at other locations.
Along with Friendship United Church, the Sophiasburgh Town Hall has been an integral part of  community life in Demorestville for many years. The hall was constructed in 1875 by James Spurr, of Hillier, at a cost of $4,400.
It seats 120 people and has a kitchen, bar, stage, lighting, a piano and is accessible.

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  1. Ken says:

    That is a shame, I played in that hall one time for a benefit for the Kellar family, who were victims of a house fire. It was a nice hall.

  2. Doris Lane says:

    What a shame, the hall had been fixed up in recent years and I have fond memories of the County Theatre Group using it for rehearsals.
    Maybe the roof was leaking and the ceiling got water under it. Maybe a wake up call to look into the other roofs on County buildings that are not up to standard.

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