Maritime Centre needs SPCA as a renter

Society president takes issue with claims made by staff at Campbell River City Hall

The landlords of the Maritime Heritage Centre are rejecting the city’s objections to leasing out space in the city-owned facility to the SPCA for an adoption centre.

M.J. (Marv) Everett, president of the Maritime Heritage Society, in a letter to council refuted  city concerns that an agreement between the city and Maritime Heritage Society requires the space be used for maritime activities or as a public meeting space and that the zoning does not conform to the SPCA’s proposed use.

“The acceptance of the BC SPCA as an MHC (Maritime Heritage Centre) tenant has absolutely nothing to do with this MHS mandate and any concern of city managers to the contrary is clearly a miss-interpretation of our duty,” Everett said. “The rental of meeting rooms and long-term lease of other space has nothing to do with (the mandate). It is purely a business matter.”

Everett said over the past 10 years, the society has rented rooms to all sorts of businesses, organizations and residents regardless of their focus. Clients such as Weight Watchers, BC Forest Service, Marine Harvest, BC Hydro and others have all rented out space in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

The BC SPCA approached the Maritime Heritage Society last month to lease a 1,600 square foot space that’s currently sitting empty and which the society has been trying to fill with a long-term lease tenant for more than a year to generate funding.

“It is essential to the on-going operation of the MHS and the on-going fulfilment of our operating mandate that we find a secure and reliable tenant for the vacant MHC space,” Everett said.

“The last tenant declared bankruptcy and left with approximately $16,000 owing in rental arrears. This financial hardship is further exacerbated by council’s continued indifference and apathy to our numerous pleas over the past several years for a fair, non-oppressive contract.”

Everett wrote that he also doesn’t understand how the current Commercial-two zoning does not accommodate the SPCA’s intentions.

“We are surprised that zoning is an issue,” Everett said. “Given that the BC SPCA interest for the MHC space is for an educational and animal adoption centre, not an animal shelter, re-zoning seems unnecessary. However, if re-zoning is in fact required, MHS is fully prepared to help make this happen.”

Everett asked council in his letter “to instruct city management that the BC SPCA proposal does not create an MHS mandate conflict and to do whatever is necessary to expedite any MHC zoning changes that may be required.”

Council was expected to receive Everett’s letter at Tuesday evening’s council meeting after the Mirror went to press.

It’s been more than four months since the SPCA pulled its operations in Campbell River following council’s decision to award the city’s pound contract to Coastal Animal Control. Craig Daniell, the SPCA’s chief executive officer, promised SPCA supporters at a community meeting in June that the SPCA would return to Campbell River and at the time, said the SPCA hoped to open an adoption centre by July 31.