The SASCU Downtown Activity Centre, next to the new school board office, is destined for ‘disposal,’ but not everyone is pleased with the plan.
The status of the DAC, as it’s commonly called, was laid out in the Long Term Facility Plan commissioned by School District #83. The plan states it is a one-acre property and has been subdivided for future disposal, meaning sale.
Gary Greenhough, the school district’s acting secretary-treasurer, said the DAC is now being leased on a month-to-month basis, but negotiations for a five-year lease are underway. That lease would be back-dated and would expire on April 30, 2018.
He said the board has already passed a disposal bylaw for the DAC property, but no process has been initiated yet to dispose of it.
There are no structural issues with the building, he said, but it was built in 1921 to serve its former purpose as Salmon Arm Elementary and has undergone subsequent additions.
“It is past its building life cycle,” he said, noting it would be expensive to renovate or update systems. “We’re not looking to be upgrading or investing in the building. For instance, there’s no air conditioning in the building.”
If sold, the sale “would assist the district in funding future capital projects,” Greenhough said.
Superintendent Glenn Borthistle said the board is certainly aware of the building’s use.
“I think we’ve been pretty open with them that this is a possibility, that the building will be sold,” he said, noting groups have been told they will need to find other locations in the future.
As for when, he said the board would provide sufficient notice to both the city and the board’s tenants.
“The board would provide a letter to the city that is going to inform them about the lease period and that the board may be disposing of the property when the lease expires.”
He said that would probably take place a year in advance of the lease’s expiry.
Kim Sinclair, executive director of Aspiral Youth Partners Association, still holds out hope the building could be retained for its current uses – at least for a longer period.
“Our hope is to extend it,” he says of the lease. “They’re talking two-and-a-half to three years. We feel this is a pretty valuable asset in the community. We’d love to have more conversation to see what we can do to keep it alive in the community.”
He said his association’s understanding of developing the DAC as a centre “was to create sustainability in youth programming in the community.
We think that will suffer. It’s been very well-used by parts of our community on an ongoing basis.”
He said the air cadets just joined the centre two weeks ago, and the Kids’ Club daycare has expanded.
“The radio station is still going strong. We have a program for teens with disabilities in the basement, part of the children’s association. It’s called The Loft. There’s tons of stuff going on.”
Sinclair said his main hope is that more discussion will take place before a final decision is made.
Sinclair says current users and uses of the centre include: badminton, Salmon Arm pipe band, cello lessons, duplicate bridge, meditation, Questers, Toastmasters, gospel coffeehouse, Metis coffeehouse, Shuswap Daycare, Narcotics Anonymous, Salmon Arm actors, Responsible Drivers program, Round dancing, midget hockey, lacrosse, Shuswap miners, Shuswap women’s rec soccer, Canadian Mental Health Association, Employer’s advisory, air cadets, Grace church, Voice of the Shuswap radio, Kids Club after school program and The Loft program.