The Arts Unlimited Building is soon to be demolished after the District of Vanderhoof have deemed it economically irreparable.
“Its beyond repair,” said District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
The District owned building has been out of action since just after Christmas 2010 when it was discovered that the furnace had stopped working.
The community building, which is located on the corner of Victoria and Church Street, was shared by many groups in the community for meetings and events, notably it was used for recreational art programs for kids, headquarters for Vanderhoof Search and Rescue, Nechako Valley Community Theatre and the Figure Skating Club.
It has been the Arts Unlimited centre for the last 15-20 years and before that was known as the old government building.
The District had a number of building inspectors check out the building before deciding not to attempt any repairs or renovations.
“There were a number of concerns with it including there being asbestos in the building … it required us to make a decision that it was not a building that we would be able to work with and that the sooner that we distance ourselves from it and look for other options the better,” said Thiessen.
Dozens of the building users turned up to a regular council meeting on April 27 to hear the first discussion in council about the demise of the building and to look at options for finding a new community space.
Two key users of the group, Annerose Georgeson who runs Arts Unlimited, and Chris Mushumanski from Nechako Valley Search and Rescue (NVSR), spoke to council about the dire need for a new community space. Building requirements were also highlighted including the need for an arts space with sinks, a gallery space and board room, four individual artist studio spaces with good natural light, a kiln room, a heated car bay for the NVSR rescue vehicle, storage rooms, and a stage among other things.
In a letter sent to council prior to the meeting, building users expressed their desire for a new, shared community centre.
“The cultural services we provide to Vanderhoof are diverse, and important, and we do this with minimum need for annual support,” it said in the letter.
While most of the user groups have found alternative temporary spaces, finding enough storage space for a lot of the equipment in the building is proving more difficult.
“The encouraging thing is that it appears that all of those users have a place right now – they are in various places – some are out at the fairgrounds and in other buildings around town,” said Thiessen.
Council have decided to strike a committee to work towards a new community space.
“We’re striking a committee and it will be made up of two council people, three of the building users, two members of the public and the regional district representative Jerry Peterson.
“We will get those names approved hopefully at the next council meeting and go through very much a similar process as what we’re going through with the pool committee,” said Thiessen.
A date hasn’t been decided for the demolition of the building yet. All of the asbestos in the building has to be removed before it is taken down.