Customers lined up for three open spaces owned by the Village of Burns Lake.
Terms of the deals were not disclosed as of deadline, but three vacant addresses will soon have new occupants paying into local coffers.
“The Village is currently experiencing a shortage of commercial space. This is causing long time businesses to be displaced and limiting the startup of new businesses,” said the Village’s economic development officer Dolores Funk in a report to council.
Indeed, when the Village acted on this shortage by determining three spaces could be put to commercial use, there was a small lineup of potential clients.
Expressions of interest were called for between Jan. 20 and Feb. 6.
One of the three spaces made available was the building commonly known as the Interpretive Centre across the highway from College of New Caledonia, and currently occupied by the Lakes Artisan Cooperative.
A second was the space commonly known as the Heritage Room. Funk explained that, “The Heritage Room, housed within the Heritage Centre, is a community rental space that is currently underutilized.”
The third space was the basement of the Heritage Church that is currently undergoing life-saving renovations. The upper floor has long been earmarked for public events, but the underground floor had no designated use.
Perhaps the ongoing renovation was why there was only one applicant for that spot, but not so for the other two.
“A total of seven Expressions of Interest were received,” said Village chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing. “Three EOIs were received for the Heritage Centre, three for the Interpretive Centre and one for the Heritage Church basement.”
It was not disclosed how the choices were made for each successful applicant.
One agreement was fairly matter of course. The artisan group’s lease was up for renewal at the end of the year, anyway. They agreed to shift operations into the Heritage Room, a move that puts them in the stream of public coming and going to see the museum sites, so together they become a cultural node. Its a 2-3 year lease at $500-$525 per month.
The spot made vacant by their shift will be filled by Aksenz retail store (Aksenz also applied for the Heritage Room as an alternative). It is a two-year deal for $1,100 per month.
The Heritage Church basement, meanwhile, will be leased to The Link on a three-year lease for $936 per month, but not without some consternation from council. The Link, one of the town’s most recognized and complex charity organizations, is in need of the basement space for four offices, which will require $20,000 more in renovation costs than was planned. The Link has agreed to repay those costs over time, if council approved funding that construction up front.
Worthing explained the plan that had been loosely made in advance.
“What we will do is negotiate something with The Link in order to help pay back that $20,000 (such as) managing the facility for us for a number of years to pay it back, something like that…They are definitely wanting to enter into an agreement with us.”
Councillor Kevin White asked about if the monthly rent they would pay would go towards that debt, but Worthing said no, the rent money was over and above the repayment.
“They are very aware that (the offices are not) built yet,” Worthing said. “It would be much like what we did with the curling rink lounge, if you recall. We did some upgrades there, and then worked that out over time.”
“Their managing the building is scary to me,” said White, but he still voted in favour of the motion.
Funk said that the use of these three spaces had a triple-positive effect.
“Choosing to move forward with long term rentals for these three facilities will provide much needed funding for maintenance and necessary improvements,” she reported.
“Energy efficiency upgrades are required on these facilities to help reduce CO2 emissions. Long term rentals will help to fund these improvements.
“Providing leases to Village owned assets, will help to meet the current demand for retail and office space. Retaining established businesses, and creating opportunities for new ones, strengthens our community structure.”