The Former Matilda Town Hall was put to several other purposes after the amalgamation in 1998 and the incorporation of South Dundas. The new municipality first made Williamsburg its headquarters and eventually moved on to Morrisburg where it is located today. The estimated cost of bringing the building up to date is $225,000. The funds would be partially fundraised from the community, and from business donations as well as from Energias de Portugal Renewable Funding. Hopefully there would be no cost to the municipality. Morin Photo

BRINSTON – History, community, and making use of an existing municipal building in Brinston is the focus of a community meeting on April 12.

The meeting is being held at 7 p.m. at Matilda Hall and is hosted by the Matilda Memorial Recreation Committee.

The committee is looking for community input about what can be done with the Former Matilda Memorial Town Hall located at Matilda Memorial Park.

In 2018, South Dundas decided that it was thinking about demolishing the former township office. The building, currently vacant, was classed as excess inventory and was a financial burden on the municipality.

The recreation committee came up with a business plan highlighting the issues around the building as well as the solutions and long-term goals that would see the building as the hub of the Brinston community.

The business plan stated: “A primary objective of this committee has been to provide recreational facilities and programs to the community of Brinston. This building was once the ‘centre’ of the community and as such, we see many future uses, which will be discussed in this document. The location of this building is ideal, as it will provide indoor space within the confines of the park.”

The business plan was also an opportunity to let the municipality know that the Brinston community was serious about taking on the responsibility of the building, had a good plan of action and a fundraising strategy and kick start a discussion with the municipality regarding what the potential roles and obligations would be between the municipality and the committee.

Committee member, Shellie Spenser said: “We signed a lease back in September and we are getting insurance quotes, and before we go and get an engineer and an architect involved, we felt we better have another community meeting to make sure this is what the community wants.”

She admitted that it is impossible to make everyone happy, but it was important to hear what the community as a whole has to say.

“The idea behind the meeting is to get as many people as possible from the community there, and hopefully some people in the area who have plumbing, electrical, architectural, construction backgrounds, so that we can get their feedback about what they think is feasible, what they think is practical, so that we can make a decision that works best for everybody, and makes sense,” said Spencer.

“If they tear the building down, we will never get a four-season building at the park.”

The committee feels the Brinston community needs a smaller venue for community events.

“We approached local businesses and said if we invest the money in this building will you use it? Will you use it for Christmas parties or health and safety training or awards’ nights?”

The business plan stated: “This document provides an overview of the Matilda Memorial Park main building project and the work required to secure this structure for public use in the future. It establishes the location, history and recreational value of the building and reviews its current condition and estimated cost for repairs. It proposes a preliminary program for use, and presents a renovation concept that frames the scope of work needed so that the Matilda Memorial Park main building can accommodate both the function of the Matilda Memorial Recreation Committee, and be a hub for future recreational activities. Finally, the document proposes a management plan with a fundraising strategy and a preliminary timeline. It is a plan that focuses on collaboration and community involvement with the intent to showcase the work of local businesses, artisans and recreational leaders in South Dundas.”

Central to the success of the plan according to Faulkner, is to have a healthy partnership with the South Dundas council, the municipality, and the Brinston community.

The former Town hall was built in 1936, with funds from the community and the Matilda’s Women’s Institute.

The recreation committee is opposed to demolishing the building believing a decision to renovate the building would be more cost effective, and a benefit to the community rather than simply tearing it down.

“Public interest in this building has been expressed in the form of letters of interest/intent. This renovated and revitalized building would be an asset to both the Matilda Memorial Recreation Committee and the municipality as well,” stated the business plan.