Renovation of the former Giant Mine recreation hall into the main exhibit hall for the Mining Heritage Interpretive Centre is the Society's primary objective. In 2000, the Society began looking for a suitable location to display and exhibit the history of mining in Yellowknife and the NWT. It became apparent that the Giant Mine area would be a well-suited site. A building assessment of several structures at Giant Mine townsite/A-shaft area was conducted to provide the Society with an idea of cost estimates to restore some of the buildings for future public interpretive use. The Society eventually focused on the former Giant Mine recreation hall as the most suitable and structurally sound building. The recreation hall was built in 1953 as a centre of after-shift recreation for staff and workers living at the Giant Mine townsite. The building received numerous renovations and additions into the mid 1960s.
Engineering, feasibility, architectural, and hazardous material studies have been conducted on the building since 2002. These include:
- "Building Inspection and Report, Giant Mines A-Shaft Buildings, Recreation Hall" by Structure All Consulting Engineers Ltd., May 2002
- "Giant Mine Rec. Hall Building Renovation, Yellowknife NT, Proposal for Design & Construction Drawings" by Guy Architects, June 2006, including roof drawings
- "Hazardous Material Inventory, Giant Mine Rec Hall, Yellowknife NT" by A.D. Williams Engineering Inc., October 2006.
- "NWT Mining & Geological Interpretive Centre Master Plan" by Dillon Consulting Ltd., 2008
The Society has identified short and mid-to-long term goals. Short terms goals will focus on the renovation of the Giant Mine recreation hall into the primary museum and interpretive centre. This facility will include a small Tea Room, Gift Shop, offices, archives, and large exhibit hall. There will be indoor and outdoor displays and a landscaped parking lot. Mid-to-long term goals will focus on development of outdoor exhibits in the entire area, renovating and repairing the A-shaft buildings, and developing walking trails for geological tours.
Total estimated cost to renovate the Giant Mine recreation hall is $1.2 million. To design and construct exhibits would run another $100,000 to $150,000.
In the summer of 2007, the Society raised $120,000 to replace the roof of the recreation hall. In 2010, the Society fixed the crumbling foundation of one wall of the building at a cost of $40,000, and more repairs to the structure were conducted in 2012-2013. Thus, renovation work is already underway using money raised from fundraising and donations. However this work can be classified as 'remedial' and emergency repair as the building was deteriorating in its original state.
Considerable capital is necessary to completely gut, renovate and rebuild the interior and exterior of this old building.
The building is part of a larger parcel of land that holds prospective recreational and heritage value in the Giant Mine townsite area. The Society proposes a larger interpretive centre using buildings at the A-shaft complex on the hill. These include a 1945-vintage timber headframe and associated hoist room and powerhouse, plus a commissary/warehouse building now used by the Society as storage.
The Giant Mine townsite area were selected as the proposed NWT Mining Heritage Interpretive Centre for a number of reasons:
- The recreation hall is in good structural condition and would provide the necessary space needed for an interpretive centre.
- Other vintage structures including A-shaft headframe, hoist room, powerhouse, and commissary are authentic examples of what a mine looked like in the 1940s-1950s.
- The overal area has plenty of outdoor space for parking and displays of mining machinery. There is also space to include other heritage buildings.
- The area is central for recreation possibilities being located on a City of Yellowknife lease where there is a public boat launch and private marina.
- The area is scenic and borders Baker Creek, a popular catch and release fishing spot.
- Unique, world-class geology
The Society applied for a sub-lease of the property on which the recreation hall sits from the City of Yellowknife, which owns the primary Giant Mine townsite lease, #17889. The lease was officially signed in October 2010. Depending on funding and the outcome of the Giant Mine Remediation Project environmental assessment, the Society can begin final renovations to the recreation hall.