Sikh Temple sale in limbo

The sale of the Sikh Temple on Ash Street is in limbo, with Nechako Valley Community Services (NVCSS) waiting on the side.

The sale of the Sikh Temple on Ash Street is in limbo, with Nechako Valley Community Services (NVCSS) waiting on the side.

The sale of the building by the committee which manages the unused property was supposed to go through in August. Instead, just when the final signing was supposed to take place, the committee did not got through with the deal.

The sale of the temple had been a plan in the works for some time, according to Dave Birdi, who had been acting as somewhat of a liaison between the committee and NVCSS.

The Sikh community was in agreement the building should go back to the community of Fort St. James, as it was originally built to help provide a gathering place for community members after the old community hall was no longer around.

The building, built in the 80s, had fallen into disuse due to the shrinking Sikh population, with elderly Sikhs moving away.

“It served the purpose well,” said Birdi

Originally, he said a deal with Nezul Be was agreed upon, with the Sikh community wanting to see the building going to a nonprofit in Fort St. James and the funds of the sale going to help out volunteer organizations.

When the rezoning wasn’t approved by the mayor and council at the time, the group then looked to other organizations which could use the space and be interested in a similar arrangement.

The building was then agreed to be sold to NVCSS as a “family hub” with a daycare and counselling facilities, for $200,000. The proceeds of the sale would then be donated equally to the Fort St. James Hospital Auxilliary and NVCSS.

But just as the final signing was about to take place, no quorum was able to be reached within the temple committee.

The Sikh community in Fort St. James had been consulted, according to Birdi, due to the large scale of the deal, and the community was reportedly in agreement with the deal.

“I have a hard time understanding what happened,” said Birdi. He said he cannot speak for the committee, and  cannot speculate as to exactly what happened.

Tyrell Arnold, executive director of NVCSS, said he is in regular contact with the committee to see where things are at, and his organization is still optimistic the deal may go forward.

“Hopefully we’ll know within a week or two on their definite decision,” said Arnold.

His understanding is at this point, there is no agreement between the signing authorities.

He said his organization is comfortable where it is for the time being, but the primary goal of purchasing the large Sikh Temple property was to find a location for the daycare.

Therefore, the organization has begun exploring other options as a backup, given how important a daycare is for Fort St. James.

But the organization is not only concerned with finding a home for the daycare, but also with recovering the costs they had so far invested in the purchase of the temple.

Engineers had been hired to look at the structure and make some preliminary plans as well as a septic engineer who inspected the septic to make sure it would be suitable for the proposed use of the facility. Rezoning applications to council had also already gone through, a $500 process.

Arnold said NVCSS had approximately $5,000 invested in the structure so far, however, they had only a verbal agreement with the committee.

NVCSS has also lost significant money in the past year, with over $400,000 in losses leading the organization to ask for tax exemption from the the District of Fort St. James.

Members of the committee who were reached by phone were not willing to comment on why the deal stalled.

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