Fundraisers launched to upgrade Alberni Athletic Hall kitchen

Denise Titian, January 19, 2018

The Alberni Athletic Hall is a venue for some of the region’s largest gatherings, including a potlatch on Oct. 21, 2017 that honoured the late Wally Samuel Jr. (Eric Plummer photo)

Port Alberni — 

The beautiful, new Alberni Athletic Hall, located on Roger Street, is a popular gathering hub for both locals and neighboring communities. Besides the wide range of athletic events hosted there, the hall also serves the Nuu-chah-nulth community who rent it for events, potlatches, tournaments and funerals.

With its capacity to hold large crowds, amenities and a generous parking lot it is well-suited for Nuu-chah-nulth-size gatherings except for one thing – the kitchen.

According to Matilda Atleo, the kitchen requires more equipment in order to make it fully functional. The hall doesn’t have enough appliances and equipment to make it self-contained.

“The way it is now, people have to cook their food elsewhere, then rent warmers to keep the food hot for the trip to the hall,” she said.

The last Alberni Athletic Hall, located on Beaver Creek Road, was lost to fire in May 2009. All of the kitchen appliances and equipment were lost in the blaze. While insurance covered some of the loss, major fundraising efforts were required to build a new hall, which was completed in November 2010.

With its goal to attract a steady user base and make the hall accessible to all at a nominal fee, the Alberni Athletic Association keeps costs down by having an all-volunteer board of directors and no salaried staff. They rely on support from the community and, after the fire, received generous donations of some used kitchen appliances. But what is there is not enough and the equipment is aging.

Atleo is planning to form a group of interested supporters who will call themselves the Friends of Alberni Athletic Hall. The group would plan fundraising events publicized through social media, posters and local papers. She hopes to raise $25,000 by the end of June 2018 to go towards kitchen upgrades.

Atleo, a former caterer, said she is prepared to donate some of her catering utensils and a meat slicer to the AAH. She believes that in order to make the kitchen fully functioning and self-contained, the kitchen needs an industrial gas range that costs about $2,900. She would also like to see another stainless steel working table, coffee makers and a rice cooker.

The AAH has an industrial dishwasher but no dishes, pots or pans. “It would be nice to have real dishes in the kitchen to make use of that dishwasher, and it would mean less waste,” Atleo noted.

Upgrades to the kitchen would likely draw more rentals. “I’ve heard people say that they would use the hall if the kitchen were fully functional,” said Atleo.

The fundraising effort is not affiliated with any other Alberni Athletic Hall fundraisers. Atleo says she will start a social media group to publicize the fundraising effort and to draw volunteers and donations.

If you would like to volunteer or donate to the cause, contact Matilda Atleo at 250-720-6141 or email her at matildaatleo@gmail.com.