More information needed to settle future of Kinsmen Hall

Floor plan of the Kinsmen Building as provided by the Town of Gananoue.

(Gananoque, ON) The Kinsmen Building Advisory Panel (KBAP) held a meeting at the Lou Jeffreys Arena on July 11. In attendance were KBAP members including Mayor Ted Lojko, Deputy Mayor Dave Anderson and Councillor David Osmond as well as Shellee Fournier, CAO and Penny Kelly, Clerk / CEMC.

A request for submissions of expression of interest was made at the KBAP meeting held on May 25. A set format was laid out, and interested parties were given until no later than July 6, 2022, at 4 p.m. to deliver their paperwork. Each group was required to provide a complete organizational profile as laid out by the Town, financial information, organizational experience, a concept summary, and letters of reference. Organizations were offered assistance in filling out the forms not only from the Town’s webpage, but they could also submit questions in writing to the CAO. Submissions were evaluated on a points system taking into consideration community benefit, the quality of the proposal, price per square foot, and references.

Completed submissions were received from MyFM Broadcasting, the Thousand Islands Youth Boxing Club and the Seniors’ Association. Each has been found to be an asset to the community, has its own specific reasons for wanting space and has proposed a different amount of space for their use.

Some concern was expressed as to the ability of the Seniors’ Association to meet financial obligations, but it was noted that this is a young group which was only established in August of 2021. While MyFM and the Thousand Islands Youth Boxing Club have been around longer, have more stable finances, and can make a firmer commitment to costs, they also have different needs and require different amounts of space to fulfill their goals.

Discussion was held as to whether or not all three groups could work out a compatible use of the available space. The Boxing Club is already established in their own 3,600 square foot space and MyFM is seeking 1,000 square feet for their use plus permission and location on the property for the construction of a tower. The remainder of the building (approximately 2,600 square feet) could be utilized by the Seniors’ Association.

Concerns were put forth by Councillor Osmond as to whether or not the building was structurally sound enough for these types of use. Various problems were pointed out with no exact idea as to costs involved in making upgrades and repairs.

Councillor Anderson suggested that a professional inspector be brought in to go over the building completely and create an estimate of how much it would cost to do all repairs, and to determine what are actual needs, what are simply nice to have, and what should be done but can wait until more income is generated from the project. Among other things to consider are accessible washrooms, improvements and repairs to the parking lot, automatic doors, etc. Each needs to be examined and given a priority before moving ahead. With a solid idea from a professional as to what these costs would entail it will be possible to make better decisions. It is necessary to know what costs are involved in order to determine how much each group would need to contribute to the building in terms of rents and improvements/maintenance.

It was decided to table all decisions at this time and reconvene after the CAO has had a chance to get together with the three groups and see how they are willing to address the issues. KBAP will be able to make further plans from there.

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