Community hall coming soon

A deal to purchase the theatre building in order to turn it into a community hall for Fort St. James has gone through.

Coming soon to a theatre near you … a community hall.

A deal to purchase the theatre building in order to turn it into a community hall has gone through.

The purchase agreement between Columbine Investments and the District of Fort St. James has had the conditions removed and a final price has been disclosed.

Finding the price was a bit of a process, according to Mayor Rob MacDougall.

“One of the challenges in small communities like ours is there’s no real market established for buildings of that size,” he said. “But if you look at it and the replacement value and work backwards from the replacement value, depreciation, at the end of the day we felt the price was something we’re satisfied with and we would proceed.”

The final purchase price was for $525,000 in cash and $325,000 in the form of a charitable donation receipt to Columbine Investments.

MacDougall said while some may be disappointed the plans to build from scratch have been shelved, the purchase is a good one.

“Our back was against the wall this year with some grant monies that we’d received,” he said. “We felt that as elected representatives we would be remiss if we did not take advantage of the $900,000 of grant funding and secure something for the community.

“I think it’s a win-win for us and and it’s a building that’s structurally sound,” said MacDougall. “I’m excited to see it happen.”

MacDougall said the purchase of an older building will also offer the municipality the option of doing upgrades over time as they can afford them.

The land titles are being processed and once those go through, the district will take possession, but the final plans for developing the space have not yet been determined.

The district is planning on meeting with those who have been involved in the community hall, various user groups and even the broader community to help determine priorities as to what developments will be within their budget and will maximize the potential use of the building.

The district is working with a $1.5 million budget so far, $400,000 coming from Towns for Tomorrow, $500,000 from the Community Recreation Program, $270,000 from reserve funds by private donation, and an estimated $30,000 from Northern Development Initiative Trust.

The district will also be borrowing $300,000 on a 20-year loan towards the project.

“For us, we felt it was necessary that the citizens from today moving forward help to pay for some of the structure as we move forward,” said MacDougall, “If you look at everything in the community today, it’s paid for by past citizens, we have very little outstanding debt in Fort St. James.”