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Viability of Picton Town Hall hinges on finding an anchor tenant

Council will give the Picton Town Hall Board of Management a year-end deadline to secure an anchor tenant before extending its terms of reference agreement to June 2023.

The board, established in June 2019, was given two years to achieve full cost recovery for the facility offering it for community use. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted its rental revenues, though expenditures were lower as a direct result of reduced usage.

Councillor Phil St-Jean, who sits on the board of management, told council members had read the report, and though surprised with the caveat, are comfortable and confident they will meet the deadline.

In its review of the town hall financial statements, municipal staff report this year’s Picton Farmers’ Market initiative exceeded revenue budget projections by $2,256.

The board has a bank balance of nearly $9,500 and a capital reserve of $1,500. It has received donated kitchen appliances and an oak bench, valued at $3,595 to help attract renters.

The board owes the County $22,468 for operating costs incurred since Jan. 1, 2020, minus an in-kind grant of $2,600, for a net payable balance of $19,856 as of the end of July 2021.

“In summary, staff make the observation that with $9,463 in the bank, there is little flexibility to repay the municipality the funds owing without sacrificing the ability to have funds on hand to generate operational revenue,” stated Lisa Lindsay, Director of Recreation and Community Facilities, in her report. “In order to meet the commitment to the municipality, an anchor tenant is required. Staff is recommending the tenant be on a long-term lease to ensure there is consistent revenue stream for the lower level.”

Last November, a memorandum of understanding was being developed for the Recreation Outreach Centre to lease the lower level but an agreement was not secured.

A second call out to the community for a tenant has been launched and to date, the town hall board reports two not-for-profit organizations have expressed interest.

In the current terms of reference, the County is responsible for the building structure. A capital forecast plan for required upgrades is to be presented to council for consideration in the 2022 budget process.

For the board, the terms of reference have four mandates: to maximize use of the hall with priority to community groups; achieve full cost-recovery by June 7, 2022; secure an anchor tenant for the main floor and connect with County staff and other user groups on the hall’s capital needs, plans and funding.

The town hall’s board reports its financial targets are on course, despite hardships it faced during the pandemic, and due to progress made in other areas mandated in the terms of reference.

“Staff are recommending the council only approve a one-year extension to the terms of reference if the board is able to secure an anchor tenant by Dec. 31, 2021,” Lindsay reports. “If no anchor can be secured, the debt will continue to grow.”

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