Gananoque considers Kinsmen Building options

GANANOQUE - There remains plenty of uncertainty regarding the future of the Kinsmen Building in Gananoque.

Council recently authorized a $5,000 draw from the Kinsmen Building reserve for the procurement of an architect. The town will continue to look at options for tenancy of the Kinsmen Building and will seek approval from the granting agency to re-direct $60,000 towards the Lou Jeffries Arena to support accessibility needs. The intention would be to crease a safe space for the social, recreation, cultural and educational programs that support the interests and well-being of older adults, seniors and people with disabilities.

On Sept. 2, the Town received notification that it was successful in its grant application to the Inclusive Community Grant in the amount of $60,000. The grant is from the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility to create a dedicated safe space for social, recreation, cultural and educational programs that support the interests and well-being of older adults, seniors and people with disabilities. The project must be completed, and funds spent, by March 31, 2023.

At its Dec. 6 meeting, council received responses from the Boxing Club and the Gananoque Seniors Association Inc in terms of their interest in sharing the Kinsmen Building. The third possible entity, MyFM, did not respond.

This grant is specifically to remove barriers and impediments that limit the use of the Kinsmen Hall for residents with mobility challenges or safety concerns (front entrance doors, site lighting, washroom and parking barriers, etc.); continue to engage a minimum of 100 older adults/seniors/people with disabilities in the planning, implementation and future programming for the Kinsmen Hall (public space).

Based on the two of three responses received, the town is not able to achieve the contributions towards the capital costs of the facility as was hoped. This leaves council with a difficult go-forward plan. Staff prepared several options for council’s consideration:

Option 1: Begin discussions with the Gananoque Senior Association Inc. on the proposed shared tenancy of the Kinsmen Building with the Boxing Club and direct staff to issue a call for tenders for the described $60,000 accessibility renovations. It was noted this option will not cover the required capital costs of the building.

Option 2: Continue to look at options for tenancy of the Kinsmen Building and direct staff to issue a call for tenders for the $60,000 accessibility renovations. This option will increase the value and functionality of the Kinsmen Building with the investment of the grant; however, it will not directly meet the intent of the grant program. If the building remains for public use with public access, the argument could be made to the granting agency that the town is still achieving the grant goals and objectives.

Option 3: Direct staff to sell the building. Advise the granting agency that the town will not be going forward with renovations to the building.

Option 4: Continue to look at options for tenancy of the Kinsmen Building. Seek permission from the granting agency to re-direct the $60,000 towards the Lou Jeffries arena accessibility needs to create a safe space for social, recreation, cultural and educational programs that support the interests and well-being of older adults, seniors and people with disabilities in the upstairs hall.

With the uncertainty of the future of the Kinsmen Building, staff were seeking direction from council on this grant.

(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