Friendship Centre continues to welcome people with open arms in the Bulkley Valley

Photo: Dze L K'ant Friendship Centre Society

Dze L K'ant completes more than $70,000 in renovations in two years

Situated near the base of Hudson Bay Mountain, the Dze L K’ant (which means “foot of the mountain”) Community Hall is a vital space in Smithers with the capability of hosting 250 people for meetings, education, weddings and funerals. In a small town, where there are only a handful of facilities capable of hosting large groups of people, it is important to maintain existing spaces.

“The building is comfortable and creates an opportunity for socializing and has many unique features, including aboriginal local cultural art and public lawn space," said Annette Morgan, executive director of Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society. "The space creates an opportunity for people to come together and be inclusive of diversity. Community members and members of the region are able to be in a space to share interests.”

Built in 1989, the Dze L K’ant Community Hall welcomes over 8,000 people from across the province each year. According to Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre’s Sustainable Event Guidelines, these visitors boost spending in transportation, accommodation, retail, restaurants, entertainment and attraction. The guidelines state that “the average non-resident delegate spends over $1,400 as a result of attending an event at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre.”

Since 2016, nearly $74,000 of renovations have been completed inside the building and in the parking lot. Of this amount, Northern Development has contributed $39,340 in grant funding through its Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program.

In 2016, the Trust approved $24,340 in funding for critical upgrades to the parking lot and for the purchase of a new industrial dishwasher. Improvements to the parking lot were necessitated by drainage issues that would occur each winter/spring during the snow melt. For a few months, the parking lot would be covered by a foot or more of water. The repercussions of poor drainage created safety and accessibility problems, the potential for structural damage and safety and accessibility concerns. Flooding reduced the quantity of rentals in the hall while costing the society approximately $1,000 annually to ensure drainage.

This photo of the flooded parking lot was submitted to the Trust with Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre’s funding application.

In 2018, renovations were completed inside the hall. Northern Development provided $15,000 for the replacement of the hall’s flooring and painting in the entranceway and bathrooms. The flooring created a safety issue as it was cracking and lifting and the entrance had tears and holes in the walls.

      

The hall's renovated interior with new paint and new flooring.

“These grants benefited the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre in many ways,” continued Morgan. “They allowed us to grow, to enhance our asset management, to allow safe access for people with disabilities and it gave us the ability to respond to the usage needs of the users and community while creating a new partnership of learning.”

The Community Halls and Recreation Facilities grant program offered by the Trust provides up to $30,000 or 70 per cent of the project budget to improve, expand or develop facilities in order to increase the number of events held in the community. In 2018, more than $2.1 million was approved for 91 projects through this program. Of this, $361,363 was accessed by organizations in the Northwest region.