Studio 2880 will be getting the repairs it needs.
Prince George City Council voted to approve $260,350 in repairs for the building.
According to Manager of Maintenance, Dale Martens the repairs would extend the lifespan of the building about 5-10 years.
The funding would come from the Community Works Fund, with the caveat that city staff can’t be used, and contractors would have to be used.
“I took a tour through that building, and boy, does it need some work,” said Councillor Brian Skakun.
“Everything from the bathrooms, the toilets, the roofing, and that.”
Some Councillors brought up concerns about spending the money if the building was going to be torn down soon.
“As much as I absolutely value Studio 2880, and the 2850 Avenue buildings, I’ve worked in both of them, and I wouldn’t willingly work in those buildings again,” said Councillor Susan Scott.
“It has nothing to do with the organizations that are in them because they’re absolutely amazing. I’m concerned that that’s over a quarter-of-a-million dollars of money that would be better placed.”
Councillor Kyle Sampson agreed.
“It’s not that I don’t think the Community Arts Council is not worth the $260-thousand investment, especially from a fund that doesn’t impact the tax levy,” said Sampson.
“It’s that is this building worth a $260-thousand investment when we know we’re going to kick it to the side as soon as we come up with a better plan. Why haven’t we come up with that plan?”
Mayor Lyn Hall responded by saying there was a plan in place to move the Community to the former Bank of Montreal building on 3rd avenue.
“That was a solid plan, and that plan has been in place for about four years,” Hall said.
“Due to the lack of funding from the federal government through a grant process, they weren’t in a position to make that move.”
According to City Director of Finance, Kris Dalio, the move was estimated to cost between $3-million and $4-million.
“What we’re talking about is, for lack of a better word, a hole, that’s what they’re in right now, they’re not in a nice facility,” Sampson said.
“We’re going to do a band-aid fix, make it barely habitable, and they’re still not going to be in a great facility.”
Sampson also moved to postpone the vote to the August 15th regular council meeting, to get more information, but it was defeated.
“I trust staff, we had a good debate a while back about fixing up the playhouse, to keep it operational, so the groups could use it had a place they could call home,” Skakun said.
“Studio 2880 needs a bit of work but it’s not a ‘hole’. It’s a nice building inside, it’s got some character, I think that the Community Arts Council will stay there for a few years.”
Director of Recreation and Events Andy Beesley added he’s been in conversation with the Community Arts Council, and their preference is to “limp this one out for the next few years,” and that “it would be devastating for them to move into other facilities.”
The recommendation to approve the funding was carried unanimously.
Other items discussed at tonight’s (Monday’s) meeting included an update on progress to the proposed mega park, an update on tree planting within the city, and a presentation from the Prince George Airport Authority.