December 7, 2022

‘A hub in the hamlet’: Sherkston Community Center Committee plans to ‘stay viable’

Mike Feagan, Vice-Chair of the Sherkston Community Center Committee, and Ashley Collee, Chair of the Sherkston Community Center Committee. The committee is looking for more volunteers to join.
  • Grace United Brethren Church uses the community center in Sherkston following a fire that destroyed the church in 2020.

While the heart of a community is made up of its people, the bones are made up of buildings like local community centers.

Community centres, like the Sherkston Community Centre, “served the community and beyond.”

“It’s important to have a hub in the hamlet,” said Mike Feagan, vice-chairman of the Sherkston Community Center Committee.

He said the center hosts events throughout the year, like a chili cook-off, Christmas potluck and Easter egg hunt, that bring the community together.

The community center has an old school.

The center is currently used by Grace United Brethren Church following a fire in 2020.

Feagan said when he moved to the community 40 years ago, he didn’t know anyone.

“Knowing your neighbors is quite important when you live in the countryside,” he said. “It’s a strength to know your neighbours.

Ashley Collee is the new Chair of the Sherkston Community Center Committee.

Like Feagan, Collee said, she moved to the hamlet 12 years ago and didn’t know anyone.

But by becoming active through community center events, she got involved.

“We were seeing the events organized by the community center,” she said. “We were taking our kids out and meeting different members of the community.”

Town of Port Colborne Chief Administrative Officer Scott Luey responded to concerns about rumors about the community center – which council had made or are currently considering making decisions about the community center in Sherkston.

“It’s up to the board to decide,” Luey noted.

Staff can give recommendations, he said, but the decision is not theirs.

Staff are currently operating on a status quo with respect to the community center.

Luey said the City of Port Colborne has had a Building Condition Assessment (BCA) on city-owned buildings, including the Sherkston Community Center.

Luey said the BCA is “requiring something like $700,000 in work over the next few years to make it work.”

Before any work is done, he said, city staff would present the various options to council.

Luey said possible suggestions could be to spend money to keep the building running or to replace the building on the same site with something more modern. They might also consider building on a different site.

Luey noted that one of the main concerns about the Sherkston Community Center has to do with accessibility.

The center had traditionally been used as a polling place during elections, but this year another more accessible location was chosen.

Luey said the committee members who run the center “are doing a great job and the staff are very happy with the job they are doing.”

In the meantime, Feagan said, the committee is looking to recruit more members and volunteers.

He said they weren’t really worried about losing the community center, but were actively working to “keep things viable.”

“We just realized we have to keep it viable. We have to make it work and keep the events going because, again, that just makes the whole community stronger,” he said.

Feagan said the committee felt compelled to “make sure the place serves its purpose here.”

“We hope to add more events and attract more community members to engage more faces and bring new ideas to the table,” he said.

For more information about the Sherkston Community Center, visit their Facebook page.

If you are interested in volunteering or joining the board, call Feagan at 905-894-0191.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After hearing a rumor about the future of the community center in Sherkston, journalist Nick Fearns learned more about the impact of the community center and its future plans.