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Wakefield centre AGM key to its future

September 13th,2023 | Opinion

Board members at the Wakefield community centre announced on May 22 that the centre’s 14-year mortgage has been fully repaid. However, rising costs are set to threaten the centre’s future finances.

What does the future hold for the Wakefield community centre?

A municipal takeover? Community-run programming? Status quo?

Never in the centre’s history has there been a more important meeting than the Annual General Meeting coming up Sept. 21 — and it’s integral that as many members of the CWLP cooperative show up to voice their opinions.

This is the meeting where board members will discuss the future of the centre – namely whether or not they will officially request the municipality of La Pêche to take over management of the building, looking after everything from maintenance and the heating bills to expensive repairs like the looming roof replacement, which will cost the centre more than half a million dollars.

Board members unveiled a new three-year plan earlier this summer, and within that plan was a draft agreement drawn up by the municipality that outlines the framework in which La Pêche and the centre would work together.

According to the draft agreement, La Pêche would become the landlord of the building and would undertake “maintenance, balance of mortgage, and continual repairs of the building” while leaving programming, rentals and other community decisions to the co-op. The agreement would be similar to the arrangement that artists at Place des Arts Farrellton have recently entered into with the municipality: La Pêche is the landlord of the former Catholic school, which PAF took over in 2016 from the school board, while the artists run the art centre as they see fit.

This partnership is a no-brainer for the CWLP. Although the first 10 years of the centre’s lifespan have been successful, post-pandemic times haven’t been so rosy. Administration problems have plagued the centre, as has staffing and governance issues. Financial stability has become the biggest challenge for the centre these days. While a municipal takeover wouldn’t solve all these issues, it would give board members more time to focus on programming and sound governance, as they wouldn’t be burdened by the day-to-day management of the building.

Chelsea’s Meredith Centre runs on this model, too. The municipality is the landlord of the building, while the Chelsea Foundation focuses on programming and culture and keeping the centre buzzing from week to week (see story page 3).

But it’s also important for Wakefield residents to understand that this is not the only option. This is part of why CWLP president Vicky Carlan wants as many members to show up at the AGM to offer up alternative solutions they may have.

The AGM is also an opportunity for members to become more involved. Residents can run for board positions, as the CWLP will be voting in a new board of directors.

Don’t be a passenger on this cruise to the future. Instead, help pilot the ship by taking part in the discussion and, more importantly, the decision that will define what the Wakefield community centre becomes.

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