After years of debate by numerous councils, a decision has been made with regards to what will become of the former Kinsmen Building in Gananoque at 400 Stone Street North.
Council has decided to proceed with directing staff to maintain the property as a town facility to be rented out for a non-municipal use at a price that would recoup direct costs and/or generate a profit and add $600,000 to $850,057 to the asset management plant and future capital budgets to maintain and or repair the property over the next ten years at $85,000 a year.
Councillor Colin Brown put forward a motion, which was unanimously passed by council, to offer the Thousand Islands Youth Boxing Club a five-year lease renewal for 3,600 sq. ft. under the condition that the rental rates progressively increase to cost recovery rates. The lease would include a three-month exit clause, if the club was not successful in their Trillium Grant application in the amount of at least $150,000. The details of the existing lease agreement would remain the same (property taxes, grass mowing, utilities included, with snow removal not included).
The current lease agreement with the boxing club expires on June 30, 2023. The boxing club had asked for a five-year lease renewal in order to allow them to apply for a Trillium Grant for the building.
Since 2016, various councils have considered the future of the Kinsmen since it was given to the town seven years ago.
Six options were given to council to consider. Option one would have seen council direct staff to bring back a report to declare 400 Stone Street North a surplus to the municipality’s needs, begin the process to designate the lands as residential exception (allows personal service shop, clinics, office, artisan studios, commercial and private clubs, and health retreat), survey and sever the lands to maintain municipal waterfront access, and engage a real estate firm to list the property on the market for $480,000.
The second option would have seen council directing staff to maintain the property as a town facility with a municipal use; the third option, which was ultimately decided upon by council, directs staff to maintain the property as a town facility to be rented out for a non-municipal use at a price that would recoup direct costs and/or generate a profit.
Based on the current annual costs (capital and operating – $101,000), the town would need to rent the facility at $15 per square foot to break even, according to staff’s report. This does not include staff time to manage/oversee the building. In order to break even, the town would need to increase the rent to $15 per square foot and seek another tenant for the former daycare side of the building.
Option four is the status quo -the town currently rents half of the facility (3,600 square feet) to the boxing club for $4.94/sq. foot or $17,773.32 year plus HST. Under the existing scenario (boxing club agreement and daycare side vacant), the town is short $83,000 per year to properly fund the facility. Status quo, council heard, was not a financially sustainable option.
Option five would have resulted in the demolishing of the building and maintaining the waterfront property as public space. The cost to demolish the building is unknown. The sixth option would have directed the CAO to engage in conversations with the counties to explore options on creating affordable housing at this location, following the recent grant announcement made by MPP Steve Clark.
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
By Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative
Original Published on May 16, 2023 at 07:17