By: Korie Marshall

There is evidence of Tete Jaune’s importance to the railroad builders who were trying to punch through the mountains to join western ports to the rest of Canada. The interpretive sign at the Tete Jaune Hall says the great floods of 1913-14 destroyed most of the original town along the edge of the Fraser River, built just a few short years before to support the rail builders. An intricate, hand-painted map shows where you can still find remains of some of those buildings.

The current Tete Jaune Community Hall itself is easy to find, and if the community has anything to say about it, it will be standing for a long time to come. The Tete Jaune Community Association has approval for a number of renovations and upgrades, which will begin soon, and is looking for every opportunity to improve the community hub.

In operation since 1948, the hall has been a meeting place for the community, for yard sales and fundraisers, farmers markets and dances for years, and was established as a taxable service under the Regional District in 2000. Upgrades to the building, including adding a covered deck, replacing the ramp at the front, making the washrooms accessible and replacing windows with larger, energy efficient windows, were originally proposed in 2012, but the funding application was not successful at that time.

Then last October, Employment and Social Development Canada notified the Regional District that more funds were available under the Enabling Accessibility Program, and the project could be reconsidered. Together with funding from Northern Development Initiative Trust and some money and in-kind work, the funding has been approved, and the contract was awarded to Lewis Enterprises last week. Construction is expected to start in early July.

Ainsley Jackman, secretary of the Tete Jaune Community Club, says the existing concrete ramp is narrow and not very user-friendly. The new ramp will be longer, and the covered porch at the front as well as the south side will allow access to both doors, with some room for seating as well. Jackman says they can’t allow vehicles to drive over the area south of the building, because that is the leach field for the septic system, installed last July, so the club hopes to turn the area into a garden. Already some trees and shrubs have been donated and planted.

The existing washrooms are not wheelchair-accessible. The renovations include making both washrooms accessible, and will mean using up a bit of the storage room in the south-east corner to expand the ladies’ washroom.

The club is also hoping to apply for funding from the federal New Horizons for Seniors program, to upgrade the dishwasher to commercial grade, to ensure dishes are properly sanitized for public use during community events. A commercial dishwasher will require an upgrade to the power service from 100-amp to 200-amp, so the application includes the power upgrade, as well as programs for seniors, since many of the local residents are seniors.