With the decision now released publicly from Closed Council, the City of Kamloops would like to provide additional information regarding the decision to terminate the lease with the Kamloops Heritage Society (the Society) for St. Andrew’s on the Square.
Earlier this year, the City’s Finance Committee undertook a review of all of the City’s service agreements in order to get a full picture and ensure the agreements were consistent with Council’s priorities. After a thorough evaluation, the Finance Committee put forward its recommendations to Council on all service agreements.
On July 9, 2019, Council unanimously voted to approve the recommendations from the Finance Committee, including the recommendation to cancel the lease with the Society and assume responsibility for all facility operations, maintenance, and repairs for St. Andrew’s on the Square.
Based on the information provided by the Society, Council made the decision that was in the best interest of preserving a valued City-owned heritage resource.
On October 22, 2019, Councillor Walsh put forward a Notice of Motion recommending that Council direct Administration to provide a detailed five-year operational and financial report related to the City’s takeover of full operations and the bookings for the St. Andrew’s on the Square heritage building. It was defeated in a 2-7 vote, as the majority of Council felt that the information provided by the Society prior to the July 9 vote was adequate to make a decision on the lease. This motion was a request for more information; it was not an opportunity to revisit the initial decision to terminate the lease due to procedural rules.
The existing lease with the Kamloops Heritage Society outlines that the operation, maintenance, and repair of St. Andrew’s on the Square are the responsibility of the Society. In exchange, the Society keeps 100% of the revenue generated by facility bookings.
Over the years, the City and the Society have discussed the financial burden of operating, maintaining, and repairing St. Andrew’s Church while recognizing that heritage buildings always present specific challenges. The labour and expense involved in regular maintenance and repair of items such as hardwood floors, the HVAC system, exterior and interior painting, roofing, and stained glass windows are already significant and will only increase as components near their end of life and need replacing. In order to properly preserve and protect this asset, significant expenditures will be required in the near future, which the City is ultimately responsible for as the owner of the building.
As part of the City’s review of all service agreements, the Society was asked to present financial information to the City. The information provided by the Society showed it was not able to generate enough of a profit to cover the significant costs of operating and maintaining the building.
On August 21, 2019, the Mayor sent a letter titled “St. Andrew’s Church - Lease Cancellation and Proposed Consulting Agreement” to the Society’s Board of Directors outlining Council’s decision to terminate the lease. In the letter, the City proposed entering into a transitional agreement with the Society for 22 months. The City would assume responsibility for all operations, maintenance, and repairs effective March 1, 2020, and allow the Society to continue to collect the revenues for their bookings until December 31, 2021. In addition, the City would pay the Society $20 per hour to provide an on-site liaison with event bookings during this period. The City has also offered the Society the use of the facility for three hours per month at no charge for two years (2020 and 2021) to hold monthly Society meetings.
The Kamloops Heritage Society has not expressed interest in developing a transition plan for facility bookings, and concerned residents have called the City after being informed by the Society that their bookings may be cancelled. The City has not directed the Society to cancel any bookings. The City is committed to honouring all bookings once we receive booking details from the Society. Based on a list of names and dates provided in September, the City has been working to confirm event details with residents and urges anyone who may have secured a date with the Society to contact the City as soon as possible to confirm their event details.
In addition, the Society has posted a sign on the door of St. Andrew’s Church advertising building contents for sale. The City is aware of several items in the church with cultural and historic significance. In an effort to preserve this history and the beloved atmosphere of the building, the City has expressed interest in purchasing items from the Society. The Society has yet to respond to this request and has not provided a list of items or prices.
The Society advised Mayor and Council that they have started a petition that recommends that Council direct staff to explore a new form of working relationship with the Society and allow the Society to provide more information to Council that was not provided originally. The Community Charter dictates Council procedures for reconsidering decisions, and the opportunity to reconsider this decision has passed. However, the City originally proposed a consulting agreement with the Society to mitigate any impact to the Society’s staff and minimize disruption to facility users.
The City’s primary objective in taking over the management of St. Andrew’s on the Square is to protect a heritage asset consistent with our overall asset management plan. The City has a long track record of preserving, protecting, and operating heritage buildings and other community venues. Under the City’s operation, the facility will receive any required repairs and remain available for bookings by the public in the same way as the Old Courthouse, which is another heritage property that the City maintains and operates.
The City is dedicated to maintaining and celebrating Kamloops’ heritage and is committed to ensuring that St. Andrew’s on the Square remains an architectural feature of Kamloops’ vibrant downtown. The City is hopeful that the Kamloops Heritage Society will continue to operate and provide a variety of community activities in and around St. Andrew’s on the Square.
If you have made a booking with the Kamloops Heritage Society for St. Andrew's on the Square and have concerns about the status of your booking, please contact Barbara Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City is providing the following clarification in response to a letter to the editor published November 8, 2019 in Kamloops this Week titled: Why Should City pay for CPR safety fence?
The City has acquired land from CP Rail (CPR) as part of the Victoria Street West Improvements Project. The City needs this land, valued at approximately $250,000, for road widening and pedestrian improvements, as well as for landscaping between Sun Life Financial and the Overlanders Bridge. In lieu of the City purchasing the land from CPR, the City has agreed to install rail safety fencing on the north side of Victoria Street West (between Sun Life Financial and the Overlanders Bridge) to deter pedestrian traffic from crossing the tracks.
At the same time, the City is pursuing a grant through Transportation Canada to increase the amount and quality of safety fencing that could be installed (from the Sun Life Building to the First Avenue Overpass) almost doubling the length of the original estimate. Given an increase in pedestrian activity in the area, the City is moving forward with this opportunity to try and improve the scope of this pedestrian safety initiative.