The Village of Alix council decided to expand a social services agency’s lease to include more space in the taxpayer-owned Railway House located at the north end of Main Street.
The decision was made at the June 2 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White gave councillors an update on bay #2 of Railway House, which previously housed the youth centre.
The village council recently decided to move away from providing recreational programming, reassigning staff, selling unneeded equipment and finding a new occupant for the youth centre’s former location, bay #2.
White also noted in her report that current debenture and interest that the village pays annually for Railway House total is $67,402.32.
White reported the village publicly advertised that the space was available, and noted that one proposal was received from the Community Resource Centre (CRC) which is already located in Railway House, receives funding from the Village of Alix and is operated by Bashaw and District Support Services Association.
She noted two businesses also voiced interest, but one likely needed a much smaller space and the other didn’t provide detailed information.
The CRC proposed adding bay #2 to their existing operation in order to offer more programming.
Coun. Ed Cole stated he’d like to see the CRC get that space but if renovations are needed for new programming the CRC should pay for them. Also, if more space is added to their lease, it would be fair to boost their rent.
Coun. Vicki Soltermann stated she spoke to someone from the CRC and they told her the CRC would like to take over the existing kitchen. She also asked about previous operations which were in this space, including the food bank and Family & Community Support Services (FCSS).
White answered that there are still a few things belonging to the food bank but the FCSS space is just about empty.
White reminded councillors there was some space up above bay #2 on a second floor, but that this space was set aside for the village’s emergency response centre.
Cole responded that he thought he’d been told that space was too small to be an emergency centre, and that it’s probably not in the best place either as it’s close to the highway and railway, which could very well be the cause of any emergency and instead suggested the community hall.
However, Mayor Rob Fehr noted the community hall is already identified as the reception centre in the event of an emergency. White added that the hall also doesn’t have enough phone lines to act as the emergency centre.
Fehr went on to say he knows the wellness group really wants the kitchen and has heard some Alix residents are concerned there are no youth programs in the village.
Councillors discussed the possibility of moving the existing kitchen facilities over to a different bay, but White noted it’s better to build a new kitchen.
Fehr stated that if the CRC is adding more programs, then ultimately that saves the village money as it’s less work for the municipality.
Soltermann added that she would like to see enough revenue at Railway House to make it worth the village’s time.
Looking at the options available to them, councillors eventually passed a resolution based on option #3, which was to boost the Bashaw and District Support Services lease to include the existing youth centre and youth centre addition from bay #2 at Railway House.
A few minutes later councillors debated renewing the Bashaw and District Support Services lease including the new space from bay #2. Coun. Cole asked the CAO what would be a fair rent increase.
White responded that $1,500 per year would be fair considering the amount of new space. Mayor Fehr stated he thought that was a good deal.
Councillors passed a motion approving a five year lease for Bashaw and District Support Services for bay #1, and a one year lease for the bay #2 space.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter