Future of arts building in limbo

The District-owned Arts Unlimited building in Vanderhoof may be permanently out of commission after it was recently discovered that the furnace has broken.

The District-owned Arts Unlimited building in Vanderhoof may be permanently out of commission after it was recently discovered that the furnace has broken.

Somebody noticed during a meeting there recently that the building was cold and after further investigation found the furnace was not working. Since then the water has been drained from the building and all the pipes filled with anti-freeze.

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 and also as the headquarters for Vanderhoof Search and Rescue.

It has been the Arts Unlimited centre for the last 15-20 years and before that was known as the old government building.

It’s likely the District will discuss what to do with the building during the next regular council meeting on January 26.

Annerose Georgeson, artist in residence with CNC Nechako, says those with upcoming meetings or events scheduled at the building will have to find somewhere else to go as its likely it will remain unheated for the rest of the winter.

“They just can’t get the furnace fixed I’ve heard…I think it might be the beginning of the end of that building because it’s so expensive to maintain and to heat,” said Georgeson, who helps organize and run arts recreational programs for kids in town.

She added that the District have been extremely supportive in the past to arts groups and to other tenants such as search and rescue, who have been allowed to use the building.

“ I’m sure that together we’ll figure out a new solution,” she said.

Georgeson added that some people have said they would like to tear the building down but there is asbestos around all the pipes causing a problem.

“That asbestos has to be removed first and that has a huge price tag because it has to be done by specialists,” she said.

She also said that as soon as you start doing any renovating on the building, the asbestos would have to be taken out.

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen says there haven’t been any discussions on the future of the building yet, but said he is concerned that there are a number of older buildings in the community such as this one that have been obtained from the provincial government.

“The Cadets building on Main Street is another one of those buildings and we need to work on,” said Thiessen.

He added that there is the need for a community centre in Vanderhoof.

“One of the comments I’ve heard in the past, that certainly hasn’t been formally discussed at council yet, is that we need a community centre – there’s so many of these organizations that require space,” said Thiessen.

“We have bits and pieces of infrastructure all over the community… I think the day will come where we need a community centre where we will allow people like Arts Unlimited and the Cadets to have space,” he said.

“Some of these buildings will need a lot more work to keep them going or make another plan and get the province in on that,” he added.

Georgeson added that if anyone goes into the building, could they please not turn on the taps or use the toilets, and if anyone has any material in the building that should not freeze please take it home right away.