A shuttered not-for-profit community centre in Moncton is expected to be sold as part of a property sale, following a vote by former members.
The volunteer board looking after the facility held a meeting Wednesday night and recommended accepting an offer from Partenaire Dumont Inc. for $2.5 million. The former members in attendance agreed with the recommendation and voted 20-1 in favour of the deal.
The centre, which housed a pool, daycare, and gymnasium, closed its doors in 2018 amid financial constraints and aging infrastructure. The sale is an important step forward, said volunteer board treasurer Tyson Milner.
“All we were doing by spending more time at it was spending more money,” he told reporters after the meeting.
But while almost all members agreed with the sale, it was still a bittersweet vote.
“I’m 61 years old and I learned how to swim here, my three kids learned how to swim here, my grandkids learned how to swim here,” said former centre member Dave Small.
“I’m a bit sad to see that we lose social infrastructure in the community, a place where we can gather,” echoed Mario Paris, who lives nearby. “My daughter was here with the daycare and she was playing in the gymnasium right there.”
But the reality of a centre that’s more than 50 years old, built in 1964, is that concerns about air quality, mould, and outdated amenities would require a significant financial investment to address.
“To bring the building up to code would’ve cost almost as much as we were gonna make on the building,” said board president Maria Mutch. “And there’s no guarantees we could make a go of it.”
Meanwhile, Milner said once the transaction is complete, they’ll pay off their approximate $300,000 debt and less than $10,000 of previously-unpaid staff wages.
Joey Caissie, the treasurer of Partenaire Dumont Inc., a non-profit that essentially purchases land near the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, tells Global News the long-term plan for the land is for the expansion of the hospital’s oncology unit.
According to a late 2019 Vitalité Health Network document, that suggested timeline for phase three of an expansion (including the oncology unit) is 2029-2038.
It’s not clear what a short-term plan would look like, Caissie says.
As for the $2.5-million, there have been no decisions yet on where that will go. It could start funding towards a new centre, or if they could look at other community-based opportunities, such as sponsoring people in other facilities by paying membership fees, says Milner.
The St. Pat’s board wants to come up with a business plan to present to members before the end of the year.
But Paris, the lone nay vote for the sale, says while the board has done a good job, more voices need to be involved.
“If we want to open another centre, we’ll need some participation,” he said. “For the past two years, it was the big issue. We meet, it’s the same people.”
The sale is expected to be finalized in the next month or two.
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