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County reclaims Picton Town Hall, keeps community use, farm market, will house staff

UPDATE: The municipality will reclaim use of the main floor of the Picton town hall for staffing, at least for a few years, take over bookings for the upstairs community use and establish a board to continue the Farmers’ Market outside.

APRIL 25: As the Picton Town Hall Board of Management nears its two-year deadline to secure an anchor tenant toward full cost recovery for the facility, municipal staff are recommending council dissolve the board and the County reclaim management, take over bookings and use the lower level for municipal staff.

Council, Tuesday night, will discuss recommendations in a report from Lisa Lindsay, Director of Recreation and Community Facilities.

In her report, she recommends council dissolve the board at the end of the term of council and establish a new Picton Farmers’ Market Board; decline a lease proposal presented by the board and instead, reclaim the hall with the main floor to be used for County staff . The upstairs would continue as bookable community space – to be managed and operated by staff.

The Town Hall board was established in June 2019 to assume operation of the hall, confident to achieve full cost-recovery for the facility while offering community space.

Lindsay reports some turnover with board members over the past few years and notes council recently appointed three new members and since, one has resigned.

This, she notes, has made managing bookings difficult. And this follows two difficult years during COVID-19 pandemic closures for more than half of the term of the board. She notes the board requested that staff take over the booking of community space, providing a consistent service and fee structure.

The impact of the pandemic also affected the board’s ability to attain cost-recovery. However, Lindsay states its Picton Farmers’ Market initiative exceeded the revenue budget projections by $2,256 for 2021 and this year projected revenue is $5,000. She recommends a three-year agreement for the market.

And despite the board meeting its mandate to secure an anchor tenant for the main floor, Lindsay notes much has changed in the past three years.

“The County has a need to find work spaces for municipal staff that have been displaced due to changes at other municipal properties. The County is currently looking at ways to invest in municipal properties to provide both community use space and staff workspace where it makes sense to do so. In the 2022 budget, Council supported $225,000 in funding to make some of these improvements in other locations. There is a lack of County-owned buildings in the Picton area to meet the demand for centralized staffing work space.”

Lindsay adds the continuation of a Farmers’ Market in the parking lot along with community rentals upstairs, could provide logistical challenges to a commercial lease.

Thus, she recommends the main level of the hall be assigned as municipal work space for the same term as the Farmers’ Market agreement.

Alternatively, council could accept the lease proposal from the board of management, though the staff recommendation remains that the board be disbanded and the Farmers’ Market Board be created “given the board of management’s request that staff take over the booking of the community space on the second floor.”

If council adopts the recommendations, the board would cease to exist and the municipality would be writing off an estimated $40,000 in outstanding costs from 2020 to 2022.

Should Council support the alternative option to support the board of management’s request for a longer-term commercial lease for the lower level, the municipality would see $60,000 in expected leasehold improvements, the proposed annual rental has not been identified, as per the proposal made by the interested tenant.

Denying the lease, the report notes the potential loss of revenue would be mitigated by avoiding costs for rental work space.

Council meets Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be live-streamed.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. gilles says:

    Soooooo…a building that was being threatened with disposal to a developer (at a bargain-basement price, mind you), and being touted as “surplus” property, turns out (as we suspected) to NOT be surplus after all, and yet STILL essential to Shire Hall. We are all glad that it was saved from private development, and that Picton Town Hall remains in public ownership, under the stewardship of The County.

  2. Argyle says:

    At the rate the County is adding municipal staff they may want to seriously look at moving into Queen Elizabeth school to be able to accommodate all these new employees……..

  3. Andy Bowers says:

    And yet 24 months ago they were on the verge of selling it for under $500k to a property developer.

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