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Sophiasburgh Hub project seeks support of County

Council will review a request for support of the Sophiasburgh Hub Project when it meets in Committee of the Whole Thursday afternoon.

As a result of this year’s school consolidation process, Sophiasburgh school is allowed to remain open provided its parents’ group is successful in developing, funding and establishing a food hub and other viable programming.

‘The Sophiasburgh Opportunity’ seeks council’s assistance to develop and establish the hub through access to municipal support, skills and potentially, funding.

It is being recommended to council to approve staff assistance for the committee and refer the request for potential funding to the 2018 budget process, subject to receiving a business plan for the project.

The committee seeks a County staff member to join the steering committee and be present at key board meetings and milestones; assist with grant identification and application support and regulatory guidance.

The project seeks to fill 5,400 square feet of under-utilized space at the school with social, economic and education benefits for students. The project seeks partners that will help minimize and eventually mitigate ongoing upkeep costs of the school and be part of a community hub with deep and lasting social and economic benefits for the community and County.

The hub is beginning its focus on shared commercial kitchen space that could help local food businesses ramp up production and for local food security organizations to use as a stable home for food prep and distribution needs. The hub seeks to provide experiential learning opportunities for students in health and nutrition, growing and cultivation, food preparation and business.

The committee understands the board would seek a lease rate of $9.14 per square foot per year. Operating costs (utilities, taxes, snow removal, lawn maintenance and insurance costs) would be passed on to the tenants for the space occupied. The hub would occupy 21 per cent of the building space. Based on 5,800 square feet, leases would be designed to generate a revenue of $53,012 annually. Based on the school’s utility cost of $78,103 for 2015/16, the Hub estimates its 21 per cent share would be about $16,000 annually.

In their presentation for council, Food Hub Steering Committe Co-chairs Todd Foster and Mike Farrell included confirmed County supporters.

“I firmly believe there is sufficient need that already exists for this kind of facility and that at a reasonable rate for use the money (for seeding the venture) would be recouped over the life of the kitchen,” said Glen Wallis, executive director Food to Share, one group interested in supporting the hub.

Jenna Empey, of Pyramid Ferments, also echoed support for the kitchen space at Sophiasburgh school, noting some kitchen spaces in the County only offer late night or temporary use rentals and basic set ups.

“This is a large barrier to success for the growing number of County-based food businesses and entrepreneurs and one I hear echoed throughout our food community,” she said.

Support for the Community Hub has also been received from the Prince Edward County Public Library for an on-site library; on-site child care, the County Yum Club, Vic Cafe and Hawthorn Herbals.

The group has until May to source capital and transitional funding, establish governance structure and develop a business model.


Filed Under: Local News

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  1. wevil says:

    the general taxpayer should not have to fund this with their tax dollars

  2. Chuck says:

    One of the reasons for closing schools was cost efficencies for the taxpayer. It was permitted to stay open if the proposal was financially viable. Now it sounds like it is back to the taxpayer. With water costs, housing and energy hurting so many, how is this a priority?

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