$899G for Belgian Hall
Club gives tip of the hat to Premier Wynne
By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
There will be no more banquets, wedding receptions, concerts, trade shows or public meetings at the Delhi Belgian Hall for the foreseeable future.
However, the Shields & Friends Lounge in the lower level of the sprawling complex will continue receiving patrons and serving drinks into 2017.
That according to the bar’s manager Kim Starling. Starling was hired in October soon after the Belgian Club announced it was pondering its future in the face of punishing utility bills and declining rentals.
In late October, the club executive announced that its financial problems were insurmountable and that the historic property would be sold.
They weren’t bluffing. Today, a sign is posted out front advertising the 30,000-square-foot building for sale. The asking price, according to the realtor’s website, is $899,000.
There is also a second sign out front expressing the club’s bitterness over skyrocketing electricity prices and what that has done to the hall’s viability as a community centre.
The sign says: “Hydro One 2016: $49,559. You Wynne, We Lose.”
Some of the hall’s monthly hydro bills this year were as high as $5,700. Even with 1,200 members, the club concluded it can’t go on carrying a burden like this.
The timing of the hydro whammy is especially unfortunate. The hall’s heating-ventilation-air conditioning system needs to be replaced. The building’s electrical system also needs updating.
If the club finds a buyer, Starling hopes the hall can continue forward in its current format.
“That would be nice,” she said Friday. “That’s how I’d like it to be. I’d hate to see the building go.”
In its promotional literature, realtor CBRE Ltd. of London says the 1.78-acre package has a lot of potential uses.
CBRE notes that 360 James Street has a service commercial zoning. In Norfolk County, this allows for a wide range of commercial applications.
The property, CBRE adds, comes with a “large lot with plenty of excess land for parking or further development.”
The Belgian Hall was founded in 1948 as a meeting place for the wave of Belgian families that settled in this part of southern Ontario after the Second World War. The hall earned a reputation in southern Ontario in the 1970s as a premier showcase for up-and-coming rock bands.
Acts that performed at the Belgian Hall include Ronnie Hawkins, Rush, Lighthouse, The Stampeders, April Wine, Max Webster, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.