You might just think of it as a necessary evil – the place you go to get a dog licence or pay your taxes.
But it turns out land currently housing Salmon Arm city hall, the law courts and Fletcher Park has been home to everything from a hockey rink and a pool to two schools, a library and a police station since settlers arrived.
City council recently approved including the 1.35 hectares of land at 450 and 500 Second Ave. NE in the city’s Community Heritage Register. That’s because it has been a community gathering place for more than 100 years, according to the Community Heritage Commission’s statement of significance.
In 1908, Central School was built there but was short-lived, burning to the ground on a cold winter day in January 1917. Rebuilt in 1919, it carried on as a school until 1950. Two years later it became ‘city’ hall for the then-District of Salmon Arm and soon the Okanagan Union Library moved in. City hall continued in the building until 2006 when it was torn down to make way for the current but then-controversial city hall and law courts.
Prior to 1915 and, perhaps, climate change, outdoor hockey was played on the site in winter, with softball and lawn bowling in summer. It was also home to a children’s playground. In 1952 the Kinsmen Club of Salmon Arm completed a wading pool on the southwest corner and, five years later, a swimming pool was added, thanks to a bequest from Fred Fletcher. That pool is now just an artifact, drained and filled with earth in 1985.
A health clinic, which also housed a seniors association, was built on the southeast corner and demolished in 2005. In the 1960s, the RCMP detachment was constructed on the northeast corner and occupied until 1999. The land was also home to a skate park from 1977 to 2007 when the current playground and spray park were built.
To help keep the history alive, a plaque will be put up onsite.