The Board is seeking direction and strategy from the general membership to help in navigating the organization’s immediate future. Our three year lease of the Blockhouse School is nearly finished and we need a plan in place if the property is conveyed to SSSVC by MODL, and an exit plan if the property is not conveyed.
This is an invitation to attend a special meeting of the Board and Membership of SSSVC on March 4 at 4pm.
If you have been following the project on our website you will know we have, over the nearly three years of our lease, interacted positively with a good many people by: spreading the good Permaculture word to local, national and international participants, providing space to local small businesses, hosting Farmers Markets for local producers, hosting Therapeutic Gardening for special youth and their families, hosting First Nations cultural regeneration, and celebrating community in our community, with picnics, potlucks and other well-attended cultural events.
We have also met most of the milestones set out in our arrangement with MODL, where not prevented by external, contractual or procedural circumstances.
There have been significant challenges for the Blockhouse School Project including limitations in property use and downloaded costs and responsibilities that were not clearly foreseen. As well there have been very significant challenges not raised or realized prior to the lease agreement by MODL. In addition, some pre-existing physical-plant problems such as a sometimes leaky roof, have been aggravated by increased temperature swings possibly due to climate change, in just the short time we have been using the building. There are several physical-plant challenges to overcome if we are to go forward with the project.
Our board has also been challenged by member illness, burnout and changing personal circumstances. Operating primarily on a voluntary basis has left us vulnerable to the need for attracting, organizing and retaining members to carry out the diverse activities required for a robust organization and program. In some instances we have been successful in doing so beyond our expectations. In other instances challenges have not been met very well at all.
With our lease finishing without prospect of continuance on April 15, we are quickly coming to a crossroads wherein MODL must decide whether to convey the property to SSSVC so we can continue the project under direct ownership, or for MODL to not convey, raze the building, and entertain alternative community uses for the property.
An issue we have raised with MODL in Council, is the need for an environmental assessment of the property to advise both parties of any extensive contaminants or hazardous conditions that would require extensive, and/or expensive, mitigation, allowing safe public use of the grounds or buildings. We sought expertise in this regard and have been advised that such a procedure would likely cost approximately $4000. The current SSSVC Board is of the opinion that as MODL owns the property, such a process should be carried out and paid for by MODL prior to any decision on conveyance.
SSSVC currently has tenants and Associates making use of the property in ways that meet SSSVC mandates and the very real needs of those people and organizations. With SSSVC ownership would come the opportunity to carry out a Development Agreement with MODL that would allow greater and more diverse use of the property and thus meet the needs of more individuals and organizations. This in turn would provide a much stronger financial and managerial situation for maintaining and developing the property and carrying out the diverse mandates of SSSVC.
The procedure for deciding on conveyance has several parts. First MODL would need to vote on acceptance of our second year Milestone Review held last December. Council has requested a walk-through of the property prior to taking making a decision. If that all takes place with a positive decision, a final Milestone Review is required. Also the Province requires a municipal review of the project to allow MODL to convey the property for less than market value. Details on the above procedures will be set out at the proposed meeting March 4.