Kimberley youth centre facing closure

Lee’s Spark Youth Centre on hiatus as new board mulls future options

  • Jun. 3, 2013 10:00 a.m.

CAROLYN GRANT

The Lee’s Spark Youth Centre has been in operation in Kimberley for 20 years, the longest running youth centre in the province. But these are tough times for the centre and it has been shut down since the winter.

In a last ditch effort to keep the Lee Haskell Society alive, former staff members have taken on the Board positions.

Former Executive Director Bev Middlebrook has stepped in as chair, with former staffers Chelsea Tierney as Vice President and Secretary, and Sherry Jenson as treasurer. George Rdalja will act as a director.

“The previous board wanted to step down and we just didn’t want to see a Society that’s been in existence for 20 years dissolved,” Middlebrook said.

The plan was to close the Howard Street building, sell it and its assets and put the money into scholarships.

And that still may happen if operating funds aren’t found, Middlebrook said, but they just want to make sure they have exhausted every possibility before they close down for good. And if closure is the only option, the current board has 20 years experience combined at the centre, and will be able to use that knowledge to get the best out of its assets.

The issue is operating funds, enough money to pay the bills each month.  The Centre does have over $20,000 in program funds sitting in the bank, but you can’t use that money for a Hydro bill.

“It is operating costs we are struggling with,” Middlebrook said. “Funders give money for programs, not for paying monthly bills.”

At present, the Centre is on hiatus, while the board tries to find ways to raise funds and perhaps evolve the Centre into something different, maybe more of a community centre.

“The City and community have invested a lot of money and time into the building,” Middlebrook said. “It’s in the best shape it’s every been in, it’s energy efficient.”

The new board has been brainstorming and they have some possibilities. There is potential to change the front part of the building into space for youth (25) businesses, perhaps new starts who can’t afford the rental price for Platzl space. The back space of the centre has a stage, a new commercial kitchen, two washrooms, a woodburning stove and it’s completely wheelchair accessible. That gives it plenty of potential for smaller weddings, anniversary parties and more.

“It’s time the Centre changed,” she said. “We are looking at new directions, maybe a community centre. but ther would still be a youth drop in in the evenings. We are just laying low right now, having conversations. To save money we have all the bills shut off, no phones, just lights until the fall. Then we’ll see.”

If you would like some input into what to do with the Centre, email Bev at leesbev@live.com