Rossland Radio Co-op gets half their rent waived, but remain on the hook for roof repairs

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
February 29th, 2012

Council voted 4-3 in favour of a one year deal with the Rossland Radio Co-op (RRC) to waive 50 per cent of the rent for their space in the city’s Rotary Health building, 1870 Columbia, and to amortize the full bill the RRC was presented for roof repairs over 12 monthly payments.


Two weeks ago RRC’s Marty Cancilla asked council to grant a rent reduction to the co-op in recognition of the community service they provide and in understanding of the financial struggles they face as they try to upgrade their transmission equipment and hire a paid staff member. He also asked that the city reconsider a $700 bill the RRC was presented for roof repairs.


RRC member Marty Unger told council at Monday’s public input period, “I’ve been in the construction and renovation trade for a long time, and a business owner for some time…and the [roof] bill seemed quite high, without an option to fix it ourselves.”


Cancilla acknowledged that damage had been caused by lag bolts he fixed to the roof without authorization from the city, to support a mast with guy wires. But he also noted “historical damage,” that had occurred before the RRC occupied the Rotary building.


Unger said the greater problem was that “we were just given the bill”—roughly $400 for 9 hours of labour and $300 for materials.


“We understand that it had to be looked at and dealt with right away, we appreciate that,” Unger said, but noted that he could have done the job himself for a much lower cost.


Coun. Kathy Moore raised a motion to “completely waive” the RRC’s rent and to “direct staff to resolve the issue with the roof,” but the motion was defeated.


“I feel [the RRC] is a community service,” Moore said. “They’re not making any money. We could provide a space for them to engage in their endeavour.”


Coun. Jody Blomme argued, “The Radio Co-op is important, but it’s not the same type of non-profit as the Food Bank,” which also occupies the Rotary Health building for zero rent.


Coun. Cary Fisher took the opposite approach to Moore, but his motion to deny the RRC a reduction in rent and to amortize the full roof repair bill over 12 months was also defeated.


“I’ve been beating the drum of fiscal responsibility in the city,” Fisher explained to the RRC members who were present. He claimed to support the RRC, but said, “I also feel I can’t ask, on the one hand, staff to look for reductions, and on the other hand, to approve [decreased revenues] in other areas.”


Coun. Jill Spearn aimed for the middle ground, making a motion for a 50 per cent reduction to both the bill and their rent, an idea Coun. Tim Thatcher had suggested in earlier discussions.


“I certainly think the [RRC] has a place in the fabric of our community,” Spearn said, but added, “I always feel that everybody should pay for something,” pointing out that the RRC is the primary user of the building.


This received broad support from council, but Mayor Greg Granstrom argued against a reduction in the roof bill: “If there was previous damage, I assume that was repaired. For any new damage, putting lag bolts through the roof caused it,” he said.


Blomme responded, “There was a rental agreement, but I also think that if they’re given a bill without having a chance to remedy the situation, or to seek out [an alternative contractor] or have a say in the final price, I think that’s important.”


Ultimately, Blomme and Thatcher lent their support to Fisher’s idea of amortization of the full payment, rather than a 50 per cent reduction in the roof bill and, together with Granstrom and Fisher, they defeated Spearn’s motion.


The final motion to give a 50% rent reduction but retain full payment of the roof bill (over 12 months) passed with Moore, Spearn, and Coun. Kathy Wallace against.


Both Wallace and Spearn were careful to point out that the rent waiver has a 12 month span, and Wallace suggested the RRC “find a better location” in the meantime, especially as “the future of the Rotary building is questionable.”


“I think the Radio Coop is in a difficult position, a catch-22,” Wallace said. “They’re not transmitting to the whole community. I think they’re in the wrong location. I’d like to see them survive for another year, so I’d like to give them the break for 2012.”

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