Long-awaited repairs at Martin Exeter Hall are expected to get underway next week, according to the District of 100 Mile House.
The historic hall suffered significant water damage in the spring of 2020 after Bridge Creek flooded, and has been closed ever since.
Repairs were initially supposed to start in August last year but delays associated with COVID-19, and extra time needed for assessments by engineers, meant the work was put on hold until now.
“We wanted to make sure to mitigate any future potential water damage, so we brought in some engineers which was a time-consuming process,” said Todd Conway, director of community services. “Next week we are planning to have a site meeting to commence the work, and we’ll be going over the scope and duration of the project, so I should have a better idea of the timeline after that.”
Conway did not have an estimate of the total cost of the project but did say the repairs would be covered by insurance.
The 2020 flood marks the second time in recent years the building has been damaged by water. In 2017, a hot water tank leak that occurred during the wildfires caused $125,000 worth of repairs.
The timing of the hall’s most recent closure – coinciding with COVID-19 shutdowns – meant there were no major events or productions disrupted.
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However, with COVID restrictions loosening in recent months and community groups getting back up-and-running, some events that would usually take place at Martin Exeter Hall have instead shifted to the 100 Mile House Community Hall.
The 100 Mile Festival of the Arts has booked the community hall for its series of events next spring, and the Peter Skene Ogden drama club will use the community hall in January for its upcoming theatre production.
“With Martin Exeter Hall closed for over a year due to flooding, that theatre space is unable to host the show,” PSO drama teacher Bria Jupe said. “Luckily, the 100 Mile Community Hall is available.”
The 100 Mile Performing Arts Society – the last group to use Martin Exeter Hall with its production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in early 2020 – currently has no formal plans for a new production, as a result of both COVID restrictions and the lack of venues.
“As the province has started opening up to events and gatherings, we’ve looked at different options for the 100 Mile Performing Arts Society, but without a venue, moving towards that has been difficult,” society president Lisa Grey said. “After the success of our last show, we’re looking forward to giving our community more excellent shows, even while working with different formats – different capacities, different types of shows – but all of those depend on an accessible venue that will hold performers and audiences alike.”
There is no official timeline for when the repairs at Martin Exeter Hall will be completed. Conway said the district is hoping for the spring but was hesitant to commit to that timeline, saying factors out of their control could contribute to further delays.
“With COVID delays, the lack of construction materials and now the situation with road closures, I would hate to give a time frame and have that not be a reality,” Conway said. “But the ball is now officially rolling in the right direction.”