Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

LCC mulls SIMS offices

Local officials aren’t deterred by potential obstacles to housing more government offices within the Salt Spring Island Multi Space (SIMS) building, voting unanimously to investigate further — and hoping to save taxpayer money in the process. 

Salt Spring’s Local Community Commission (LCC) asked staff to report on the feasibility of relocating all the island’s Capital Regional District (CRD) offices into the former middle school building, currently housing just CRD parks and recreation support staff. CRD electoral area director Gary Holman promoted expanding on current efforts that explored meeting the needs of the Islands Trust at SIMS, saying that combining resources will cost less to taxpayers. 

“The bottom line is the building is 25,000 square feet,” said Holman during the LCC’s meeting Thursday, Feb. 15. “This building represents our best and perhaps only opportunity to co-locate government offices on Salt Spring.” 

New construction isn’t economically feasible, Holman said, and likely a similar situation exists for the Islands Trust, who are losing their current office space lease this summer.  But, he argued, potential savings were too significant to ignore. 

“Three local government offices are now paying commercial rent, to the tune of $140,000 a year,” said Holman. “Instead of paying rent to private [individuals], we’d be paying it ‘back’ to the CRD, reducing the requisition — which is now $260,000.” 

Holman said there would be implications for the non-profit groups who rent space, but that there was no intention to eliminate SIMS as a community centre. LCC member Brian Webster agreed, noting back in December he had voted against gauging interest from Islands Trust staff in relocating to SIMS. 

“But I support this motion, if it doesn’t impinge on the current, valuable other uses of the building,” said Webster. 

“And,” he added, “the prospect of the Trust potentially moving its Salt Spring offices to Vancouver Island horrifies me.”

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Why doesn’t the LCC take over the now vacant Service BC office? It is already an office space, whereas it makes no sense to potentially kick community groups from their community centre space that they have worked so hard to secure for their use. The SIMS space is allowing groups to flourish. I’m really disappointed to read that the LCC would consider a move knowing it would negatively impact their constituents.

  2. I Vote NO to relocating all the island’s Capital Regional District (CRD) offices into the former middle school building, currently housing just CRD parks and recreation support staff. Our community has been waiting a very long time for such a space to become available to house local organizations that serve the community. An example being the Salt Sprint Island Printmakers Society whose mandate is:
    1. to promote the art of printmaking on Salt Spring Island and beyond;
    2. to provide opportunities for printmakers of all levels to learn, practice, create, and exhibit prints;
    3. to encourage learning through workshops, mentoring, and shared resources for all ages; and
    4. to share our enthusiasm and knowledge with communities at large, through exhibits, public events, and workshops.

    They have more than doubled their membership in their first year; offered many workshops for their members and non – members in the community and beyond: are active in the SD 64 Artist in the Classroom program, bringing classes into the studio to learn about printmaking and using presses, etc.; hosted many print shows in the community some of which included all community artists to show a wide variety of artistic media.

    If the SSI printmakers had to move it would be very expensive and extremely challenging, if not impossible, to find a suitable place to house all of their equipment which includes four large printing presses.

    I hope that a viable solution can be reached on this issue so as not to disrupt the SSI Printmakers service to the community.

  3. This is a really unfortunate way of gathering information. There is no indication of whether this displaces other offices or programs. Asking for votes without proper information is unethical.

  4. It feels like a real tragedy to imagine any of the current artists or non profits in SIMS having to leave in order to make room for more offices. The new layout at SIMS has so quickly become a wonderfully vibrant hub for islanders and families of all ages. Perhaps there is a vacant space in the SIMS building (upper level?) where the children and artist gatherings would not have to be compromised for government offices, otherwise there are so very many upper level units on the island that are immediately available and quite low in monthly cost. Even directly above the current CRD space beside Apple Photo. There are two units available there with negotiable rents and all the space/washroom facilities that would be required for meetings.

  5. This is a very strange turn of events and evidence of a strategic “turn of face” by local politicians. This is what Gary Holman said in 2021 when anticipating the new use of the old school (as quoted from the CRD website):
    “This is an exciting opportunity to work together with our local community groups and volunteers that have not had a permanent indoor public recreation space available to them. The social bonds that people create at a community centre have strong benefits. They improve lives and help people build strong, safe and inclusive communities, social interactions, volunteerism and community pride.”
    Recently local politicians toured the facility to see its successful conversion to a vibrant facility for Salt Spring residents of all ages and of wide-ranging interests. It’s a great success story and taxpayer money well-spent for once. Please find a home for LCC which doesn’t result in leaving others “homeless”.

  6. After all the years of planning, proposals, gathering information and materials for the Printmakers Studio, I vote absolutely NO to the building being repurposed again for administrative offices. SIMS has become an important community hub for creativity, social bonds and learning. Worthwhile community endeavours take years to root and mature. In the scheme of things this much anticipated and important venture has just begun and needs to carry on unimpeded in the same space and location.

  7. I vote NO for the relocation of non profit groups from the SIMS building for the purpose of creating office space. It has become a vibrant and thriving centre for all ages of people on Salt Spring. Community members have been able to participate in programs that are recreational and positive for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We would be losing a very valuable resource that may also be considered detrimental to everyone who has been part of this, if removed. It adds a very valuable form of structure of leisure to our routine when we can go. Without it we would be negatively impacting the health of our community.

  8. I Vote NO to relocating all the island’s Capital Regional District (CRD) offices into the former middle school building, currently housing just CRD parks and recreation support staff. I do not want to see such an amazing space used for office space. It would be such a loss to the community.

  9. I would like to Vote NO to relocating all the island’s Capital Regional District (CRD) offices into the former middle school building, currently housing just CRD parks and recreation support staff. I do not want to see such an amazing space used for office space. It would be such a loss to the community.

  10. It would be a dark day if the community groups that have set up at the old SIMS building are evicted.

    Salt Spring considers itself an island of artists and craftspeople. Compared to Duncan, etc. we have so VERY little rentable studio and work space for Groups. Church basements, community hall kitchens are the usual options. (often with mold and damp issues) ArtSpring didn’t pan out as a workable venue as there is no storage. The Salt Spring Printmakers Society has assembled expensive equipment, some borrowed, that is available to all members. They provide mentoring to the school art programs.

    Why didn’t the LCC come forward with this proposal a year or more ago, before these groups went to great trouble to set up and start operating?

  11. This option should only be explored if there is a firm, written commitment by LCC to continue to dedicate space for the non-profit/ community groups located in SIMS. Some groups support our community members and others are nurturing the creativity that makes Salt Spring such a vibrant place to visit and live. All groups will be challenged to find other locations and are far less able than CRD or Islands Trust to pay market rents. Don’t displace our wonderful community assets!

  12. I agree with the comments above. SIMS is a perfect building for many organizations with classrooms, courtyard, and large hallways. The groups are able to share and exchange their expertise. There is no other place on the island for making things together.
    I would say NO for changing this unique old school with offices.

  13. The community has waited a long time to secure a space for community arts and recreation that the SIMS building has made possible. Classrooms are ideal for arts and recreational activities. It makes sense for the PARC office to be located there given their management of the space for the purposes under the umbrella of PARC. Whilst I support the CRD and LCC securing office space that is affordable for taxpayers, there are plenty of suitable spaces available for the needs of administration and meetings, as suggested by others who have commented here. Any investigations made by the CRD and LCC need to include all potential spaces in the downtown core, not just SIMS. These investigations need to be made public and public consultation needs to be sought. The community groups who are currently occupying rooms at SIMS need to be assured that their spaces are secure and will not be taken from them.

  14. I thought government was supposed to represent their voters and contribute to their needs and well being. I say look a little harder for a space rather than evict active community groups that are established, popular and well attended.
    I vote NO.

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