Senior Centre available for rent

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

The Town of Fort Frances is preparing to let the Fort Frances Senior Centre be rented out and used for small private events.

At Monday’s Community Services Executive Committee meeting, council members and administration discussed the proposal to allow the former Sister Kennedy Centre on Nelson Street to be rented out for private events, similar to other town-owned buildings like the memorial sports centre auditorium or the East End Hall. At this point in time, the building is not on the list of approved buildings available for rent, which this recommendation will change.

The current proposal is to allow for bookings lasting until 10:00 p.m., which brought up questions about how many people would feasibly be interested in renting the space when the curfew is relatively early in the evening. Councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft stressed that the plan to rent out the centre does have some restrictions when it comes to the types of events, but that the 10:00 p.m. cutoff fits with the intended purpose of the centre.

“This was a lengthy discussion at the Sister Kennedy board,” Wiedenhoeft, who also sits on the board, explained.

“I would like to make this clear, their intention is not to host socials. They do not want to host socials. Their intention is to host birthday parties, anniversary parties, small family gatherings, and by and large, those things don’t run past 10:00 at night. They saw no need to extend it beyond the 10:00 hour.”

Councillor Andrew Hallikas brought up the possibility that the 10:00 p.m. might be discouraging even to those who would host a family get together, as being able to finally gather in person following years of COVID-19 related restrictions could make people want to socialize later into the evening. Councillor Mike Behan raised the possibility of implementing the 10:00 p.m. cutoff to begin with, and then look at pushing that time back in the future if there is a demand for it, which the committee members found agreeable.

Another point raised during the meeting pertained to a line in the proposal which states that photos be taken before and after any event scheduled at the centre in order to ensure that no damage has been done to the building during the event. Wiedenhoeft noted that both he and Senior Centre manager Cindy Noble were requesting that the line be amended to not only account for possible damages, but also to ensure that the centre is left in a “orderly and in a clean condition.” The committee agreed that wording was appropriate for the building, and raised the possibility of implementing an additional cleaning deposit to be refunded when the premises are found to be left in an orderly state.

“It doesn’t have to put back exactly as they found it,” Wiedenhoeft said.

“The Sister Kennedy workers can put things back relatively where they were. As long as it’s orderly, it doesn’t need to be replaced exactly as it was.”

According to town CAO Faisal Anwar, through conversations with Noble, the Centre would be available to rent outside of regularly scheduled events at the centre, in order to ensure anyone who regularly visits the Senior Centre would not be put out by an unexpected reservation. The centre would also be available to rent seven days a week, keeping within the previously mentioned restrictions.

The recommendation returns to town council at their April 11 meeting.