Harris Barn budget rises to $1.7M
The capital plan for the Harris Barn relocation and refurbishment project has increased to $1.75 million from its original $600,000 budget, according to a municipal report from the parks department.
Although originally budgeted only to save the barn from demolition at its home on 64th Street and move it to Hawthorne Grove Park, the 2013 capital plan includes $1.15 million to convert it into a community centre.
Parks director Ken Kuntz said in an interview that things like utilities, a sewer connection, and heating and ventilation upgrades have been scheduled to make it compliant with current building codes for a public assembly space.
“When we first started on the project we talked about a structure that the wind would still whistle through but the rain would keep off of you, so it was tantamount to an elaborate picnic shelter,” he said. “Now it’s a full 365-day-a-year community centre and our cost to do that are really even less than if we were to build it brand new.”
Kuntz pointed out that not all of the money budgeted for the Harris Barn are from tax dollars. The federal government recently awarded Delta $250,000 for the project through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, a stimulus program.
Delta is also using community amenity contributions from developments taking place around Boundary Bay Airport.
Chief administrative officer George Harvie said a report will come to council April 15 breaking down the entire cost of the project.
“As council has directed, there are no increases in taxes this year through the 1.9 per cent [tax rate], and none of that goes toward this project,” he said Monday.
The barn will be operated by the Kirkland House Foundation, a volunteer-run group which maintains the adjacent historic farmhouse. The house is a popular tourist attraction, particularly for weddings. Kuntz said the addition of the barn will provide another venue for weddings or other public events that will bring revenue to the Foundation and make it self-sustaining.
“It won’t cost the taxpayers anything to operate this thing,” he said.
Coun. Ian Paton said he visited the barn recently to look in on its progress and was surprised how many couples were there planning their wedding.
“The people of Delta are going to be so proud of this barn when we’re finished,” he said. “It’ll be one of a kind, I don’t think anything can rival this barn when it’s done.”
Work is now being done to install a fire suppression system, enhanced lighting, a mobility lift for people with disabilities, a kitchen service area, and signage. Upgrades to the barn’s sewage and water system, paving the parking lot, and landscaping is also underway.
The grand opening of the Harris Barn is slated for May 25.