On June 6, the Creativeniss Arts Society requested support from the Town of Port McNeill to help fix up the old recycling building as an art space, and while it took a couple weeks for council to decide on the matter, the society eventually got what they asked for; though it wasn’t without some serious back-and-forth discussion from Town Council.
At the Port McNeill Town Council meeting on Monday, June 20, council discussed an Administration Report that was put together about whether the town should invest in the old recycling building or not.
In order for the building to be fixed up to code, the building needs a roof replacement ($2,200), upgraded electrical ($1,400), power to the building from BC Hydro ($500), water ($500), and sewer ($3,000), for a total estimated cost of $7,600 (PW labour not included).
“Sue Harvey and I talked to Stu Abernathy (who the society has been consulting with about fixing the building) to see if the town should invest in the building, and according to Stu if it’s under $10,000 then it’s worth it,” said Mayor Shirley Ackland, adding that it’s “the only building that really suits their needs.”
Councillor Shelley Downey was against investing funds into the building, stating “I don’t feel that we as a town should be funding and providing rent free accommodation. I have a problem with it being rent free.”
“I don’t,” said Mayor Ackland in response. “I think this is a prime example of a community group working towards a goal,” adding that it’s a “minimal amount of money to keep a building viable” and that the society “will pay everything themselves once it’s up and running.”
Councillor Graham MacDonald then jumped into the discussion with his own thoughts on the subject, showing his support for the society by stating “if we don’t encourage it, we don’t move forward in any way.”
“If we do these upgrades, is there a use for the building?” asked Councillor Aaron Frost. “I’m sure there would be a use for it,” replied Mayor Ackland.
Councillor Jay Dixon added to the discussion with a philosophical question of his own. “If we weren’t discussing the society using the building at all, what would we choose?” adding that to him it “seems like a minimal investment to keep our infrastructure.”
Councillor MacDonald again mentioned his support for the group, and Mayor Ackland asked him if that was an official motion to support the request.Councillor MacDonald nodded and said “I support it, I do.”
Council then voted on the matter, and the Creativeniss Arts Society’s request for support was officially granted.
Creativeniss Arts Society member Kathleen McArthur was thrilled about council’s decision. “We’re pretty ecstatic about it,” McArthur said. “The building’s perfect for us, we love the rusticness of it, and it looks like by September we’re going to have an up and running gallery work space,” adding that the society’s goal all along was to “create a working art space for the entire community to come together and really learn from each other.”