CamBay seeks donations for hall rebuild

Get your name engraved on the heart of a community



Workers are putting the final touches to Cambridge Bay’s rebuilt community hall this week.

Now the hamlet needs help to pay off the hefty bill.

Chris King, the hamlet’s economic development officer, says response so far has been slow for their call for donations. The hamlet has $98,000 in upgrades to pay off. They’ve raised $20,000.

But he expects most donations will pour in next month, when the hall officially re-opens during the regional trade show. He says he expects many people will arrive with cheques in their hands.

Fire ravaged the building last May, starting under the building and creeping through its interior walls. In the end, a backhoe operator had to tear apart the front entrance and bathrooms to save the rest of the building. About one-quarter of the hall was lost.

Two children, who were playing with matches under the building, were eventually found to be the culprits.

Insurance covered most of the cost of rebuilding the hall, but the hamlet decided to launch a fundraising drive to transform the building into what they say will be a modern conference centre.

“This is going to be one of the best venues for events in Nunavut,” King said.

Improvements include commercial-grade appliances for the kitchen, appropriate for catering. Before, the only stove was an old, donated model. “Half the elements didn’t work on it,” King said.

The community also won’t have to watch movies projected on to an old white sheet, as before. The fire melted their old sound equipment, which has been replaced with a professional sound system, along with a video projector built into the ceiling, and a new 10-by-10 projection screen.

The new bathrooms are bigger than before as well.

The hamlet offers different levels of sponsorship for individuals and companies, from a copper donation of $500-$1,500 to the diamond level of $10,000 and up. Donors will see their names engraved on a plate permanently fixed to one wall.

Residents sorely miss the hall, and the bingos and beer dances held inside, King said.

“It’s been tough. People have been trying to cope with it,” he said. “Typically in December we have all sorts of dances and community events and Christmas parties. This year they didn’t happen, because we just didn’t have space for them.”

“This was probably the quietest Christmas we’ve seen.”

The hall’s closure also affected non-profit groups such as Cambridge Bay’s daycare, which holds an annual auction, as well as youth basketball, soccer and minor hockey games.

When work in the hall is complete this week, government inspectors will check if the building is up to safety standards. Then hamlet staff will move in the new equipment.

King said the weekends are already being booked up by community groups. The next step will be to see whether larger organizations will book their annual general meetings there too.

“Hopefully it’ll bring more business to Cambridge Bay, and more tourist dollars.”

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