Kari Ralph says many of her students have described the training space at Northern Spirit Martial Arts as a sanctuary.
Last week, Ralph was shocked to learn her martial arts school has to be out of that sanctuary before Oct. 1.
Northern Spirit is a tenant of Dan Shields, operator of McGuire Lake Congregate Living, who leases the building at 551 Trans-Canada Highway from number company 951624 Ontario Ltd.
On Friday, Sept. 13, tenants at the assisted living facility learned Shield’s lease for the building, which also includes the Shuswap Grill, was terminated by the building’s owners.
Lorenz Eppinger, representing the building’s owners, told the Observer the lease was being terminated due to arrears in rent. He said the operator of McGuire Lake Congregate Living was informed well in advance that this would happen if payment was not received.
Ralph received a call from the building owner informing her of the termination of the lease on Thursday, Sept. 12. An eviction notice was later found taped to their door.
Although Ralph and her husband Kevin remain hopeful a solution which will allow them to keep the space can be negotiated, they are in search of a new home for the martial arts school.
The Ralphs noted many martial arts schools operate out of school gymnasiums, community halls and other buildings where use of the space is shared. Ralph said this type of arrangement would not work for them as their commitment to their students requires 24/7 use of the space. Along with the martial arts training, the Ralphs said academic tutoring, behavioural work with students who have autism and other conditions, as well as team-building activities like sleepovers are offered at their school.
The interior of Northern Spirit Martial Arts reflects the tight-knit camaraderie formed among the school’s students and instructors in their 13 years at the location. The school is adorned with hand-painted signs and murals created by former students, and a small classroom space is tucked away in one corner. The Ralphs said they recently improved the space with new flooring.
Ralph said the school will still be running classes, even if they have to do so among packed moving boxes. She said she feels sympathy for the employees and residents of the restaurant and assisted housing upstairs from the martial arts school.
“We just have to be thankful and find a solution without dwelling too much on the problem,” she said.