The Mahone Bay Centre has come a long way in its short 14-year existence. Starting in 2001 with a run-down old school, the MBC Society has invested a great deal of money (approximately $410,000 in government grants, $66,000 in donations and a total of $225,000 via mortgages) and a great deal of sweat (via countless thousands of volunteer hours) to create the vibrant and increasingly successful community centre that it is today. Still, there is much more to do to make it accessible to everyone and more efficient and effective in its program delivery.
Last December the Society reached a crossroad when our current mortgage came due for a rate renewal at the end of 5 years. At the time we were wrestling with a number of competing priorities and were not in a position to propose a way forward to the membership. Accordingly, we renewed the mortgage for one year at the most favourable rate of 3.46% while we did more work to develop a longer term improvement strategy. We are now ready to present that strategy.
Our challenge was to balance the longer-term, higher-cost goals of improving accessibility throughout the buildings and paving the parking lot, with nearer term needs that would improve our service delivery. With the increasing use of the Centre and associated growing demand for improved facilities and services, we have settled on giving these nearer term needs the highest priority and funding them by remortgaging. In parallel, we have applied for a federal grant to provide an initial degree of accessibility by the installation of three stairlifts in our busiest traffic areas. If we are successful with this application, the federal grant combined with money provided by the Town will pay for the stairlifts in full. If the federal grant is denied we intend to fund the remainder via the mortgage renewal.
Legacy Grant: This summer we are implementing three Legacy Projects for which we received federal funding ($29,848), provincial funding ($12,000) and MBC donations currently at $9,420. A further $8,732 will be required to complete this estimated $60,000 project. The Legacy Projects include: repair and painting of the bell tower and reshingling the tower roof; replacement of the front stairs; and removing the drop-ceilings in the kitchen and community room, restoring them to original configuration.
The Service Delivery Improvements that we are proposing include the following:
Redecorating and re-equipping the Community and former HUB rooms following Legacy Project renovations and repurposing
Purchasing more comfortable chairs for the community room and the large conference room
Providing dedicated Audio/Visual equipment for the two above-mentioned rooms
Providing small round tables for conferences and social purposes
Providing chairs and small desks for the HUB room, to serve as a learning centre
Remodeling /re-equipping the old school washrooms to provide greater privacy and reliability
Renovating the Kitchen, including new appliances and crockery (following ceiling renovation)
Renovating/redecorating the basement level of the old school, including the “Seniors” room,
Installation of security cameras, and
Potential electrical capacity upgrade.
A first-order estimate of these items is $78,000. A good portion of these items are straight furniture and equipment purchases which we would hope to do as soon as possible, in time for the upswing in activity commencing in the fall.
As noted above, we would like to proceed with this plan as soon as possible and not have to wait until mortgage renewal 31 December of this year. Accordingly we are currently negotiating with our mortgager, RBC, to provide us with a Line of Credit which would be subsumed by a mortgage renewal in December. This has the advantages of: allowing us to get started right away; to spend incrementally, only as needed; and to try to reduce the eventual renewal by seeking donations (a major campaign will be launched to accomplish this).
Note: The current mortgage began 31 December 2009 at $200,000. We renewed last December, 2014, at $114,375 for one year. At the December 2015 renewal, $93,449 will remain. If we were to add a further $98,000 ($78,000 + $20,000 in the event the federal accessibility grant is not forthcoming) our new mortgage would be approximately $191,500, just below the original in 2009.
Given the variables between now and December, our plan is to seek authority to borrow up to $98,000 at this AGM via a LOC. We will return in December 2015 to seek authority to remortgage.
The Proposed Special Resolution
In accordance with the Mahone Bay Society’s By-Law #46, the Board of Directors is hereby authorized to borrow up to $98,000 by way of a Line of Credit with RBC, our mortgager, to enable commencement of the proposed implementation plan in advance of the mortgage renewal scheduled for 31 December 2015. The Line of Credit will be terminated with the mortgage renewal.
By-Law 46. The borrowing powers of the Society may be exercised by special resolution of the Members.