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The community hall in one of the region’s oldest settlements has a new lease on life, thanks to recent renovations.
The Hamlet of Neuhorst near Osler, on the northern edge of the RM of Corman Park, was established by Mennonite settlers in 1898. The community hall was built by volunteers in the late 1970s. A few years ago, volunteers began raising funds locally to fix the building.
But earlier this year, their efforts got a huge boost when the RM of Corman Park council allocated about $13,862 from the Municipal Reserve Fund (MRF) to pay for upgrades to both the community hall and the outdoor rink shack.
“It’s made a huge difference,” said Ron Harms, chair of the Hamlet of Neuhorst board and a member of the volunteer committee that operates the hall. “This has always been a busy place, but now it’s busier than ever.”
The hall now has new flooring and baseboards, new washroom fixtures, fresh paint, and a new kitchen area. The latest improvements are in addition to previous upgrades including new shingles. The outdoor rink shack is also being renovated.
Neuhorst hamlet board secretary Carol Friesen credits Corman Park Reeve Judy Harwood and Division 6 councilor Bas Froese-Kooijenga with shepherding the MRF funding proposal through council for the project.
“Corman Park has been really good about making sure communities realize these funds exist and what they’re intended for,” said Friesen. “This is exactly what the money is for, improving public facilities to improve everyone’s quality of life.
“This is like a new hall now, and it’s really sparked a sense of pride for everyone in the community.”
Harwood said the boom in development in Corman Park is paying dividends to residents through the MRF.
“When people see development, they should say: ‘good show, that money is going into the municipal reserve fund for projects like this,” said Harwood. “Every penny is accounted for, but it’s up to the community members to decide where it will be put to best use. These funds are 100% generated by subdivision, and are in no way connected to the municipal taxation rate.”
Harwood said the RM council actively encourages communities to apply for MRF funding for specific projects.
“That’s what it’s there for,” she said. “We can’t spend those funds on roads, even though we’d like to. These funds are provincially-mandated and they have to be used for specific purposes like this.”
The Corman Park MRF currently has a balance of about $650,000. These provincially-mandated funds accrue to the RM as a result of subdivision of properties for the purpose of residential, commercial, or industrial uses. Subdivisions are required to provide a dedication of land, or cash in lieu of land, to the governing municipality where such development takes place. These lands or funds are intended to provide for public facilities, including community halls, recreational facilities, schools, and parks.
Within the past six months, Corman Park has allocated MRF funds to several projects in various communities, including Langham ($20,000 toward the Langham Centennial Arena and $62,000 toward the Langham Curling Rink) and Dalmeny ($50,000 for the JJ Loewen Centre), Osler (paddling pool and fire hall), Warman (Legends Centre), Martensville (Aquatic Centre and Community Centre). Since 1983, Corman Park has invested almost $1 million in MRF funds into a variety of facilities within the RM and urban centres.
Harwood said the facilities in towns and villages are used by RM residents, and that’s one of the reasons they earmark funds in those municipalities. But community halls in hamlets are equally important, she noted.
“Last weekend I was out to an event at the Merrill Hills School, which is a community hall in the Merrill Hills district south of Saskatoon that was a one-room school in the old days,” said Harwood. “We provided funds to that group, and they put in new washrooms and windows and new flooring. That centre is being used for many events, including rural crime watch meetings. People from the City of Saskatoon rent that facility quite often.”
Hamlets that have benefited from MRF funds include South Corman Park (Log Cabin), Cedar Villa, Bergheim Community Hall, and Floral Community Hall. Harwood said residents are encouraged to contact the RM office to inquire about MRF application forms for worthwhile projects.