While the city isn’t interested in buying the Downtown Activity Centre, Salmon Arm’s mayor and council will be asking for more time for community groups who are.
At council’s regular meeting on Monday, May 14, Mayor Nancy Cooper read aloud a letter dating back to Dec. 13, 2017, written to School District #83 superintendent Peter Jory. The letter, previously in camera, was in response to a Dec. 4, 2017 meeting between Jory, Cooper and city administrator Carl Bannister regarding the future of the Downtown Activity Centre.
“While we recognize the tremendous value of this building to our community, the city does not wish to exercise its option to purchase the property,” read Cooper.
In addition to the city’s letter, council received two additional letters, one from Jake Jacobson and the other from Pat Kassa. Both stress concerns regarding the school district’s timeline for community groups that utilize the building to “procure sufficient funds to place a bid that would be considered appropriate.”
Kassa refers to the May 2 public meeting hosted by the school district, during which official trustee Mike McKay noted the building has only one tenant, Salmon Arm Partners in Community Leadership Association, which sublets to a number of other organizations. Its five-year lease expires on June 30, but has been extended to Dec. 31. As part of the lease in 2013, those who sublet were informed that the lease would not be renewed. Kim Sinclair, who heads the organization that rents the DAC, has been working on an offer. He has emphasized that the $1.5 million appraisal the school district received is vastly different from what he and his board think the building is worth.
“Mr. McKay advised that no further lease extensions would be given, even if there is not a successful bidder on the property. He advised the school board is not obligated to take the highest bidder or any bid for that matter,” writes Kassa, adding that McKay, in response to concerns over the short timeline, “advised that since the lease expires on his watch, that it is incumbent on him to take action.
“Mr McKay is appointed, not elected by the people of Salmon Arm, so I believe that he does not represent the people of Salmon Arm.”
Kassa suggests the lease be extended to June 30, 2019, and the sale be delayed as well.
Councillors also have concerns over the timeline, and share Kassa’s desire to see a final decision on the DAC in the hands of elected officials.
“To me, the pertinent issues are the community groups need more time,” commented Coun. Kevin Flynn. “There’s significant usage by the community, this is a significant community asset, it’s a taxpayer asset and, in my opinion, it should be an elected board that is local that decides for the school district and it should be the next council that works with them to try and have this asset dealt with in a fair way to the community.”
Council agreed with Flynn’s recommendation to write a letter to Jory and B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming, asking that an extension of the timeline be considered.