The Kinsmen Building advisory panel agreed to have an expression of interest (EOI) drafted and then eventually distributed to help determine the direction of the Kinsmen Community Hall.
The panel made the decision during its meeting Thursday, held at the Lou Jeffries Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre.
For interested parties, the panel is looking for the building, located at 400 Stone Street North, to be used for community use and/or benefit. The preference is to have the building leased but the panel is not opposed to a sale.
At the panel's previous meeting, held on April 20, four presentations were made – to discuss a community services hub model, the possible use of the building as a library and/or seniors' centre, and a presentation was also delivered by Rob Adams, CEO of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario.
On Thursday, another use of the building was proposed by Marion Sprenger, a member of the Kinsmen Building advisory panel – to re-purpose the building as an affordable housing option.
In her presentation, Sprenger noted that Gananoque is not immune to the housing crisis that has gripped the county. Currently, there is a seven-year waiting list for the local seniors' residence (Stocking Hill), and increasing seniors' housing could free up family homes for purchase and reduce pressure on that market.
As well, Gananoque has a shortage of tradespeople in the construction industry and providing short-term rentals could be used as an incentive to attract temporary workers.
The Kinsmen Building advisory panel is comprised of eight community members.
The Kinsmen Community Hall was formerly a day-care centre but now the building is home to the Thousand Islands Youth Boxing Club, which rents half the space.
The boxing club is currently paying $5 per square foot plus a CPI increase, or $18,648 per year. The rent includes all utilities (heat, hydro, water, etc.).
Gananoque council recently extended the boxing club's lease for a portion of the Kinsmen Community Hall for another year.
The lease allows the town to provide 90 days notice to end the lease under certain conditions.
In 2019, at the direction of council, staff issued an expression of interest for lease space at the Kinsmen building.
And in July 2019, council approved a bylaw to enter into a lease agreement with the boxing club for a portion of the building. At the time, the long-term future of the facility was unknown. The agreement was for a one-year period at a rate of $5 per square foot, or $1,500 a month.
In 2020, council passed an amending lease agreement to extend the term of the lease to June 30, 2021 at the same rate, and last year council extended the term to June 30, 2022.
It has been estimated the building could be put on the market for approximately $480,000 based on MPAC's property assessment.
If the panel were to determine that the town should keep but rent out the facility for a non-municipal use, to maintain and repair the property over the next 10 years, the town would need about $85,000 per year, according to a conditions assessment.
The annual capital and operating costs are $101,000, so the facility would have to be rented out for $15 per square foot if the town wanted to break even.
At the April 19 Gananoque council meeting, members decided not to proceed with procuring a geotechnical assessment/shoreline erosion study for the unstable slope identified at the building at an upset limit of $25,000.
The panel’s next meeting is scheduled for May 25 at 4:30 p.m. at Lou Jeffries Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre.
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times