Prince Rupert's Special Events, Arts Council Are Getting Kicked Out of City Hall

Brittany Webster

The city of Prince Rupert says it's gearing up to work on some major infrastructure projects and part of that means clearing out Prince Rupert's Special Events Society and Community Arts Council from the basement of city hall.

Special Events Society director Joy Sundin says they were notified in October that they would have to vacate the building, and she says finding an affordable new space hasn't been easy.

"We have a budget of around $85-100,000, which is not very big for four community festivals, and the city gives us a grant of 20 thousand dollars, so we fundraise $80,000 a year ourselves to put the festivals on. To ask us to fundraise an extra $20,000 on top of that..."

Special Events will receive additional funding in 2020 through the city's Community Enhancement Grant, but Sundin says it was requested to accomodate the one staff member hired earlier this year. She added that the extra expense of renting space may affect community festivals in the future.

To allow for smooth operations of Winterfest, Sundin says the city has given them until the end of January to move out and she's confident they'll find a space, but the original notice came as a surprise.

"It is a shock, because we've been there for well over 20 years and... both of us, arts council and us, we were, the societies were put together by the city to deal with the needs of the community for arts and for special events. So we are an extension of the city, we are volunteers doing work that city employees used to do."

Special Events Society president Bev Killbery is requesting the public's assistance in finding a new location, asking that if anyone knows of an available space to give the society a call.

"We've looked at a couple places and the city is looking at places for us too. And we're just using the opportunity to use the media saying 'Anybody got a building that they want to rent us for cheap?...Or donate, donate's nice too.'"

The city wrote to CFTK News in an email that the decision came about due to space constraints in city hall and the basement will instead be used to support Redesign Rupert as well as the water, landfill and RCMP detatchment infrastructure projects.

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