By on May 4, 2010


By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times

The Town of Osoyoos is looking for a new tenant or tenants for the former health unit building located beside Town Hall on Main Street.
According to a notice on the Town’s website, proposals to lease the vacant building “for a year to year term for a minimum of two years” will be accepted until 2 p.m. on May 7.
The building has been vacant since January when the Osoyoos Health Unit moved into the former Sagebrush Lodge building on 89th Street.
Interior Health had leased the space from the Town since 1967 and, according to the Town, the annual payment for the facility at the time of the move was $22,400.
The reason for the move was space-related, as the health unit was seeking more room for its services as the Main Street building only provided 371 square metres of space.
The South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, which closed its Osoyoos office on 85th Street on April 1, had asked the Town if it could take over a portion of the former health unit for its operations here in town for free.
The Town refused, however, and Barry Romanko, the Town’s chief administrative officer, said the reason the chamber’s request was denied because the building has “significant value” to the Town.
“Although the Chamber of Commerce is a very worthwhile community organization, Council has a responsibility to ensure that municipal resources are used to the maximum benefit of the community,” Romanko said in an email. “This property and building has significant value therefore the decision was to try and rent the building at a commercial rate.”
Chris Scheuren, the chamber’s president, said the chamber is only looking for roughly 18 square metres of space for its office here in Osoyoos.
He added that the chamber will be responding to the Town’s request for proposals for the former health unit building and its application will include a proposal to pay the Town $100 per month.
The chamber was paying between $4,500 and $5,000 to cover rent and utilities at its former office location in Osoyoos and Scheuren said the organization simply couldn’t cover those costs.
Scheuren also said if another organization or business took over the facility, the chamber is hoping it could rent the small space it requires from that organization.
Romanko said at this point there’s nothing in the Town’s request for proposals that would prevent such “subletting” from happening.
“At this time the building is being advertised for rent with no use conditions identified. At the time of receiving a proposal Council would review the proposal and assess the overall merits. The subletting of the building would be clause that would be addressed in the lease.”
Scheuren said the chamber is also looking at other possible spaces for an Osoyoos office but he would not specify what other locations it is looking at.
The vacant health unit building has also been considered as a new location for the Osoyoos Museum.
In January, the Osoyoos Museum Society’s New Museum Committee identified the facility as one of two top choices for a new home for the museum.
Gayle Cornish, the museum’s curator, said the society had not yet discussed the possibility of responding to the Town’s request for proposals.
“As far as I know there are no plans at the moment…it is too small for a museum but would make a great archives building,” Cornish said in an email. “We do like the site itself – as long as there is green space -for outside activities. (Right now our doors open onto pavement.)”
She added that the Town might also consider using the building to store some of its historic records.

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