St. Pat's board seeks 'big ideas' for shuttered Moncton community centre

A meeting to help determine the future of the vacant St. Pat's Family Centre is planned for later this month, more than a year after the community centre in Moncton closed over financial difficulties. 

The centre with a daycare, indoor swimming pool and gym closed in July 2018 amid financial difficulties. This spring, former paying members elected a new board to manage the Providence Street site.

That board wants to bring together former members, the public, business and community group leaders to brainstorm ideas for the centre later this month.

"We're at a point now that we can organize this visioning workshop and ask the community to come and bring their big ideas to envision what St. Pat's can be in the future," said board member Leslie Tse. 

Last fall, members were called to a meeting by the former board to vote on one of four offers to buy the property, which is across the road from the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre. 

Members voted to accept an offer from Heritage Resources Inc., for almost $2 million. The offer would see the building renovated and leased back to a new not-for-profit St. Pat's organization for 20 years at an annual cost of $1.

Tori Weldon/CBC

Tse said that when a St. Pat's lawyer and the former board examined the details of the offer, "issues arose" and it was considered no longer valid.

"The board and the lawyer felt it was no longer the same offer that members had voted on, so they couldn't sign it in good faith," Tse said. "That deal didn't go through, so that kind of got St. Pat's into square one again. There are no deals on the table presently being considered."

She said that's why the board wants to go back to the members and public to gather ideas.  

"Everything is a go, nothing is being excluded from this discussion," Tse said. "Obviously, the centre cannot run as it has in the past because it wasn't financially stable." 

Old model didn't work

"The existing model wasn't working, so we can't go back to the same thing that was done before."

The meeting at St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m., though the board is asking those planning to attend to register in advance. Information to do so can be found on St. Pat's Facebook page.  

Tse said the board wants to keep this meeting to 50 to 60 people to keep it manageable. 

The board plans to compile a report that will then be presented to a larger meeting later this year for a decision on the fate of the property.