The full text of a press release from the Kimberley Health Centre Society regarding rent increases as the Health Centre.
The Board of Directors of the Kimberley Health Centre Society has recently received a number of letters from members of the public expressing concern about the future of the Centre. These letters were prompted by our recent discussions with some current Health Centre tenants about proposed increases in rent. We regret the controversy that this situation has created and would like to provide some context and background.
The Kimberley & District Hospital, built in 1959 with major additions in 1970, was closed by the Province in in 2002 as part of a regionalization of health services. The building was subsequently purchased by the City of Kimberley and in 2004 the Kimberley Health Centre Society (KHCS) was incorporated as a non-profit society to manage it. A business plan was created and renovations carried out to create the spaces for Interior Health, the Medical Clinic and our other tenants. Ownership of the building was transferred to the Society in 2006.
The Centre’s original business plan proposed an eating disorder clinic for the entire 13.000 sq. ft. third floor and KHCS worked actively for several years to make that happen. When efforts to partner with the Province on the enterprise failed, other options were pursued but none bore fruit. Attempts to secure infrastructure funding to renovate the third floor and bring its fire protection and ventilation systems up to current building and fire codes have also proven unsuccessful.
For the last number of years, the Centre has been running as a break-even proposition, fully able to meet the needs of its current tenants but unable to fund the necessary building and fire code upgrades to make the third floor rentable. But without income from all the rentable spaces in the building, the Health Centre will not be able to build its capital reserves and be sustainable in the long term.
The economy of Kimberley has turned around in the last few years and our town is now seen as A Good Place to Be. We have some new members on the KHCS board and they have helped us more clearly identify our challenges and our opportunities. As a result, some things are likely to change.
While the central focus of the Centre will always be to support health services in Kimberley, we are now broadening our mandate to allow other compatible businesses to lease space in the building. That decision is already bearing fruit and unoccupied spaces in the lower floor are filling up. At the same time, we are reviewing our current lease rate structure in light of what it actually costs to keep the building running and that has resulted in discussions with some tenants about increases in their rates. In the past we have provided free space to non-profit groups and reduced rents for some tenants during the Covid pandemic but that cannot continue. No tenant has been threatened with eviction and we fully expect that our initial discussions, which we admit were likely a bit shocking to tenants, will lead to further negotiations and (we hope) a mutually acceptable resolution.
The Health Centre is a critical community asset with amazing potential, but the reality is that the current revenue structure is not sustainable. KHCS cannot continue to run it on a break-even basis that does not cover what is needed to maintain and improve necessary building systems that will benefit both current and future tenants and their clients.
Kimberley residents who are concerned about the future viability of the Health Centre and value its role in our community, would be welcome to join our Board of Directors. Applications can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org