The District of 100 Mile House has no plans to lower 100 Mile House Community Hall’s rental rates.
Sheena Elias, Deputy Director of Corporate Administration for the District, said, “The rates we are using are the rates that were current to the 100 Mile Community Club when we took over Sept. 1 (the rates date back pre-COVID). The rates were given to us by Linda Jefferson, the president of the club.”
The club could not make ends meet due to the lack of revenue and the state of the building. Even though their rates were a bit higher than pre-COVID it was still not enough revenue to be able to fix anything, said Mayor Maureen Pinkney.
“So like with any asset that you have, whether it’s your home or your car, anything, maintenance is key. And so now we’ve taken it over and there are the furnaces in there that are all red-flagged. So we’re going to have to spend, you know, $50,000 to $100,000 just to get heat in there.”
Pinkney said it was very well maintained by the societies that ran it for the last few decades but they were not able to keep up with the real big maintenance ticket items.
“Now it’s come to a crunch so you know, between the roof and the furnaces. That’s a heck of a lot of money.”
Everyone that actually is booked right now is aware that if they can’t get the heat fixed right away the hall may be unavailable for rent with winter coming. There is not enough fresh air induction, resulting in the production of carbon monoxide making it a health situation. The District must be that much more diligent in making sure their facilities are safe, said Pinkney.
The District does not anticipate raising the rates in the future. The hope is once the hall is refurbished it will be used a lot more. The more it is used, the more money it will generate in order to be self-sustaining.
Some user groups are unhappy with the increased rates. Patricia Thom of Vintage Athletics offers classes for seniors and those who are disabled to help improve their strength and balance while reducing the risk of falls and fractures. Many of her clients are on fixed incomes and she cannot justify passing the added cost on to them.
As a business person, Pinkney can understand that side of the issue saying it is still early on in the process and at this point.
“We haven’t even discussed any of this stuff but I could see where groups like this would be able to apply for other types of funding, even our grant-in-aid,” she said.
This approach would also keep the hall as an independent structure where the district actually knows what revenues it can generate and that it can hold its own.
“What we don’t want to see is it being subsidized by the taxpayers,” she said.
Pinkney said they can’t go back to cheaper rent as they won’t be able to afford the facility and maintain it without adding money onto taxpayers, which they do not want to do.
The South Cariboo Farmers’ Market was a fixture in the downtown core for several years before relocating to the South Cariboo Rec Centre when the community hall became a vaccination centre during COVID-19.
Rob Diether, president of the farmers market board said the market wound up at the rec centre this year as the former executive found it difficult to negotiate something affordable with the community club.
“We weren’t really sure how many vendors were on board and so we determined that we really couldn’t back the kind of rates that the community club needed to charge and be affordable for the market,” he said.
Diether said they hope to sit down with the district in the new year and see if they can negotiate something that is affordable for the market and satisfies everyone so they can get the market downtown again where it belongs.
Pinkney said the plan is to start the renovations by spring using some woodlot or community forestry funding. An actual timeline is dependent on budget monies and what grants are out there, she added.
“We definitely only get done what we get done in this town because we match our money to grants otherwise we would never get things done.”
With the community hall, the District has money sitting in reserves from the community forest ready to go at any time. Pinkney said this allows them to look for that community hall grant.
The District plans to hold more public consultations in the spring.
“We certainly want the public’s input and I think everyone will be very excited that we’re going have a proper community kitchen and you know, a nicely portable stage, it’ll be really, really good,” Pinkney said.