Closing the Centre for more than 4 months due to Covid-19 has severely impacted SSAC’s bottom line. Through this summer, it became clear that action had to be taken to resolve our worsening financial status.
In late August, while slowly and carefully re-opening, your president was approached by BC Elections (BCE), the non-partisan agency charged with running provincial elections, who were interested in using the Centre for their local operations, anticipating a fall election call (an eventuality realized on the 21st of September).
At our September Board of Directors meeting, a wide-ranging discussion reflected on the goals of the Society, obligations of the Board, needs of members, likelihood of continued (or even increased) Covid-19 restrictions, our financial situation, and the immediate need for revenue.
As a result, your board unanimously authorized your Vice-President (Ken White) and President (Chris Kane) to negotiate with BCE under specific parameters for revenue, exceptions and limitations.
Ken and Chris were able to achieve those objectives, exceeding the minimum revenue required, receiving exclusions to meet existing obligations to members and renters, while maintaining a skeleton offering of activities on weekends. We signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on September 11. That MOU immediately obligated Elections BC to pay the Centre, regardless of whether or not an election would be held. Only if and when an election was called would it become necessary for them to occupy the Centre.
This unfolded exactly when smoke from wild-fires in the USA made air quality extremely poor. An emergency decision was made to close the auditorium to activities until air quality improved. In making this decision, we considered recommendations of Vancouver Coastal Health to keep doors and windows closed and for vulnerable people (including seniors) to stay indoors as much as possible; then contrasted that with earlier edicts to keep doors and windows open to mitigate Covid-19 risk. The air cleared on the 19th, and we re-opened the auditorium on the 20th.
The next morning, September 21, the election was called and EBC advised us that they would be taking up occupancy.
A contract with BCE has now been executed for September 14 – October 31, with day-to-day options into November. It appears, with the election being called for October 24, BCE will vacate by November 1, or shortly thereafter. Compensating for this period of inconvenience and the set-back to re-starting activities that results, we will recover much of the financial loss experienced this spring and summer. By November, we will be in a far better position to sustain ourselves through an extended post-pandemic recovery.
These two “events” were underway as we were negotiating with The LDS Church, who were gearing up to re-start their Sunday morning congregation in the auditorium.
Juggling these, at times conflicting, negotiations simultaneously while maintaining our commitment to members to provide services on which they rely has proven to be something of a circus act.
We understand that the need to close because of air quality and our decision to accept the BCE contract extends the time we will have reduced programs for our members. We hope you agree with the Board that this financial win for the Centre reduces the likelihood of a permanent closure and of significant increases in membership and participation fees, and is the best decision possible in a challenging circumstance. Guiding the Centre through this very difficult period of time has been a unique experience, one that has forced us to learn things we never anticipated — including juggling!
For ongoing information on SSAC operations, please refer to the SSAC website, Facebook page and your activity co-ordinators via email.