Alix village council told their Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) group to move into its new multi-use office soon, after the FCSS board requested a chance to stay in their old office.
The decision was made at the Jan. 6 regular council meeting, held via Zoom to meet pandemic rules.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White gave councillors a report on the Alix FCSS board’s request to stay in the Railway House free of charge, rather than move into new offices at the community wellness centre.
“FCSS currently has office space on the ground floor of Railway House in the same bay as the youth centre,” stated White’s report to council.
“Council made a resolution to change the FCSS funding method to an application-based process on a per-project or per-program basis in 2021. The agreement with the Alix FCSS ended as of Dec. 31, 2020.”
White noted the village received a letter of request from the Alix FCSS board chair asking permission to stay put.
“This past year has been a year of changes,” stated the undated letter simply signed “FCSS Chairman.”
“Some were good and some were bad. The food bank will be moving to the wellness area in the New Year.
“The board is hoping that you will allow us to stay in the FCSS office until we feel comfortable that all matters are taken care of.
“This is not an easy transition for our coordinator and we hope that you understand closing up an office that has been her life for 20-some years has taken a toll on her mental well-being.
“If this is feasible, let us know ASAP.”
White stated the village grants about $4,000 per year in building expenses to Alix FCSS and those expenses would continue regardless of where FCSS is housed.
She noted the village pays about $2,000 per year in phone expenses for FCSS, and if they moved into the wellness centre, that money would be saved.
However, she stated letting FCSS stay put had benefits too.
“Allowing the continued use of the office space would help with making this transition easier for the public,” stated White’s report. “Though a long period of notice was given to the society regarding the changes, many FCSS activities happen only at certain times of year.
“This means some clients may not yet be aware of the changes. Authorizing extra time may allow the society to connect with more users before closing.”
Mayor Rob Fehr stated that upon doing his own research, he got conflicting stories about this request.
The mayor stated there was confusion about who wrote the letter from Alix FCSS, as it was not signed and some FCSS board members told him they were unaware of any such letter.
Fehr stated he felt FCSS should move into the wellness centre as planned to reduce confusion in the community.
“They knew this move was coming,” said the mayor.
Councillors Vicki Soltermann and Barb Gilliat agreed with Fehr, with Coun. Ed Cole noting if FCSS stayed in their current office, they should pay their own expenses.
Coun. Tim Besuijen stated no reason was given to stay in the old office.
“A move into the wellness centre would be a step in the right direction,” said Besuijen.
During discussion, a timeframe for Alix FCSS moving into the wellness centre was discussed, and Fehr noted some board members told him the end of January was fine.
Soltermann agreed, saying this has been talked about since September.
Councillors eventually passed a motion that Alix FCSS could stay in their current office until Feb. 15, 2021, but then must begin the move into the community wellness centre.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter