By Jaymie L. White
Special to Wreckhouse Press
PORT AUX BASQUES – The Port Aux Basques Lions Club has been under renovation since November, but these are expected to be completed in the coming weeks once the siding has been installed.
Val Clarke said the repairs were necessary to keep the structure together.
“Over time, the outside walls were gone, the steel beams had corroded away, so we had no choice but to get it fixed. Any wind at all, basically, wewere in jeopardy of losing our building, especially with the high winds we get here in Port Aux Basques. There was basically nothing holding up the walls.”
Clarke said the end of the building was where the renovations were intended to be completed; however, the damage was more extensive than they initially believed.
“We did the end of the building, the back end and then to the left-hand side of the building, all the way up. When they started putting in the windows on the side, that’s when they discovered that was worse than what the end was.”
Among the list of repairs made to the building, aside from the insulation, siding, and wall supports themselves, the emergency exit doors have been replaced, as have all of the windows in the gym area.
“Major, major repairs. We had to obviously do renovations inside once we started outside, and started taking out windows because of everything that encompasses,” said Clarke.
This particular renovation is one that has been in the works for sometime, but COVID was definitely a factor in delaying the process.
“It probably goes back to four or five years ago and we’ve just never had the funding to be able to do it, and because of getting the grants, it gave us the opportunity and ability to get these things done.”
The income from Western Health’s rental of the building for COVID testing also helped.
Clarke said losing the Lions Club would have a major impact on the community, so it was a no-brainer to get the work started.
“This building works the same way as the Civic Center in Corner Brook. All weddings are basically held at the Lions Club – most of them. It’s our warming center. It’s used for just about every big event that needs to be put off because every other small place, from Rose Blanche to South Branch, can only accommodate so many people, and with our building we can accommodate up to 400 people with two parts open.”
Clarke said the Lions Club is essential to providing assistance in times of need.
“If something detrimental were to happen in our area, where would everybody go? We’re hooked up now as a warming center to the hospital. We will have power when nobody else will have it. We have our seniors to protect, people who are in the group homes. If we didn’t have the Lions Club, it would be a much bigger tragedy.”
With a combination of funding from numerous COVID grants, support from the Gold Rush, and a $14,000 grant from Farm Credit Canada (FCC), the renovations were at last able to move forward.
“We’ve done renovations always, over time, but not to the extent that we’ve run into this time, and it’s been so hard with COVID, trying to secure funding to get it done,” said Clarke. “We lucked out with Farm Credit and a couple of provincial and federal COVID grants that we availed of. FCC, what they do is donate a share of their profits all over Canada, and I just came across it one day by mistake. I was looking for grant opportunities and I came across this one and thought, ‘what the heck, let’s give it a try,’ not really believing we’d get it at all, but I thought, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ and we were awarded it.”
The Lions Club usually closes in June except for weddings and events, as the Lions meetings aren’t held in July and August, but they had their closing event on Tuesday evening, May 18, with a special plaque ceremony signifying FCC and their contributions to the renovation.
Clarke said FCC played a critical role in completing the renovations, something the Lions Club is extremely thankful for. She added that the PAB Lions Club would be remiss if they didn’t thank their president, Kimberly Lambert, who showed fantastic leadership over the past three years especially, with the trying circumstances experienced throughout the pandemic.
“With the District Governor, Erle Barrett, we did the presentation of a plaque. The plaque will be installed in the entrance of the Lions Club recognizing FCC for their assistance with the repairs,” said Clarke. “We’ll have basically a new building. There are still renovations that will have to be done. We know the front of the building still has to be done, but because of cost factors, we’ve done as much as we can do right now. They’ve wrapped around the front, so what’s left to be done is from there over to where the small part joins on. The small part of the building was done a few years ago, so it’s just the big part left to be done, but because of funds we are unable to do it at this present time.”
Clarke said the Lions Club hopes to complete the remainder of the renovations within the next year or two, once funds allow.