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Lions Hall like the Phoenix

If all goes well the Westbank Lions Hall could be ready to re-open in August.

That's the hope of Rick Hebner, past-president of the Westbank Lions Club.

The club and many community groups have been without a home after fire ripped through a portion of the nearly 100 year old building back on Sept 1.

Demolition crews arrived at the site last Friday to begin the work of tearing down and rebuilding the burned out exterior of the structure.

"The roof and all the rafters have to come out. The big support beam down the middle has to come out. The front wall is being rebuilt," says Hebner.

"They are going to put another big beam in place, put new rafters on it and the re-roof the whole thing. That will secure the building and basically bring it back to structural strength."

That work is expected to be complete by March 7.

Once the exterior of the structure is rebuilt, Hebner says contractors will be hired to rebuild the interior.

Fortunately for the Lions Club and the displaced tenants, a majority of the building, originally constructed in 1928, was spared.

Hebner says only the front half of the west portion of the original structure suffered any significant damage.

He says both the Youth Centre and Red Cross are anxious to return, once the building is ready to open again.

As for the building itself, Hebner says the hope is to rebuild as close to the original structure as possible.

"Some things are probably going to have to change. We are finding that some of the brick we had out front is no longer available. We are trying to get it rebuilt as close to what it looked like as we can for historical value."

As for the interior, Hebner says again there may be some cosmetic changes (paint colour, fixtures etc), but the layout won't change.

The Westbank Lions Hall was insured for just under $3M. Hebner says the rebuild won't come close to that figure.

The fire was deemed suspicious. West Kelowna RCMP have taken over the file.

No arrests have been made.



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