The St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society has been granted charitable status by the Canada Revenue Agency.
That means the society can now issue tax receipts for donations towards preserving and restoring the historical lodge, located at the beachfront in Qualicum Beach.
The society was also granted, by the town, a four-year extension on their lease that expired several months ago. This will allow them to move ahead on major fundraising plans in the coming months to fulfil its commitment to the citizens of Qualicum Beach that the preservation and restoration of the lodge will not become a financial burden to the taxpayers.
Director of communications Shirley Culpin indicated at no point has the society requested financial assistance from the town.
“It has been made abundantly clear in a letter to councillors that we do not want and are not requesting financial assistance,” said Culpin in a press release. “We are confident in the strength and initiative of our board and volunteers and are fully willing to take on all fundraising required for this project.”
At the town council meeting on Aug. 10, Coun. Scott Harrison still made a motion for a question to be included in the ballots in the coming municipal elections on Oct. 15 that will ask residents whether the town should spend the necessary funds to refurbish the St. Andrews Lodge building up to a maximum of $700,000, the estimated cost of the renovation. It eventually passed 3-2 with councillors Teunis Westbroek and Anne Skipsey opposed.
“Having it on the ballot is just a way to gauge the temperature of the room in terms of our community,” said Harrison, who quickly pointed out the intent is not to finance the $700,000 cost but if the community favours it, the town can contribute maybe 50 per cent of the funds needed.
“My concern here is just that, we really want that park to actually start being finished,” he explained. “Right now, it’s sort of being held in stasis for a few years. We spent $3.4 million buying the land so it would be nice to finish up the park. And that is the vital component of it.”
One of the visions for the park is the creation of a public washroom, which would cost approximately $350,000. Harrison said the town can’t build the washroom because of the plan to possibly locate it inside the lodge to reduce the cost. But the town is unable to do so until the building is upgraded and meet today’s building codes and standards. And that could take a lot of time, he pointed out.
“Asking people of the town whether they want us to provide the funds is that way we can actually get that work done more rapidly as opposed to having porta-potty on sight for several years while we wait for a solution,” said Harrison.
Skipsey did not see the need for the question to be included in the ballots as the society has clearly indicated they don’t need financial help from the town. She also pointed out the town has already set aside funds in the 2022 budget to finish the park and is obligated to take it to completion.