There is no free lunch … unless you happen to be a non-profit organization in Nelson.
For the Kootenay Climbing Association (KCA), the city will be handing them a parcel of land at the Tenth Street campus for free for the next 10 years while the club builds a new facility and continues to grow its membership.
City council approved 820 Tenth St. as the location for Cube 2.0 climbing facility proposed for after KCA submitted a request in March for a building site — after conducting its own community survey with a petition of almost 1,500 signatures.
City staff and the KCA have engaged with Selkirk College on the proposed location, with Selkirk having submitted a letter of support.
But the chance to break ground almost came with some cost, when Coun. Keith Page asked for some support for an amendment to charge the KCA fair market value for the property.
“We’ve constantly said that it is important to keep a fair and balanced approach to the tax burden, for the taxpayer, even when it comes to non-profits,” he said.
He didn’t want to see the city give the land away, but at same time he didn’t expect a lease that was fair and equitable — compared to a lease the city would expect from all of the other non-profits that rent its facilities.
“They should pay for the land, just like anyone else would pay for the land. While they are a non-profit they are certainly not without means,” he said, alluding to the growing membership of the KCA.
But city manager Kevin Cormack was quick to correct Page.
“We have a number of leases with non-profits … none of them have any lease payments with them. Our policy is not that we charge fair market value,” he said, adding that the city does charge for services like utilities.
When handing out a benefit like this, the problem Page had was the city hadn’t had the proper public consultation, no feasibility study or no needs assessment has been conducted, and the project is not coming out of long-term planning, it’s not an existing component trying to develop
“For me, I’m not sure we’ve done our diligence to say we are handing out a dollar lease so they can have a brand new home,” he said.
Coun Jesse Woodward did not agree.
“Part of our job as a city is to grow organizations, help organizations grow in ways that we can provide,” he said.
“It’s like we are helping plant a seed to grow this, which will then be a great benefit to our town and our community.”
The amendment failed.
Moving on up
The reason for the move is the climbing club has more than outgrown its current Selkirk College 10th Street campus location — the Cube Climbing Gym.
As a result, in March the KCA board put together a plan, including financials, with an eye toward building a new indoor climbing facility, Cube 2.0.
Four potential sites were suggested, near Selkirk College’s Mary Hall making the short wish list.
The KCA: who are they?
The Kootenay Climbing Association (KCA) is a registered, non-profit society that operates the Cube Climbing Gym in Nelson.
The Cube is the only climbing gym in the Nelson area. In addition to providing 280 square metres (3,000 square feet) of climbable surfaces, the Cube also runs after-school climbing programs for youth, adult programs like Women’s Wednesdays and local bouldering competitions.
For nine years since it opened, the Cube has seen its usage more than double (from 4,000 climber check-ins annually to 9,000), and its annual membership increase more than 400 per cent. In the same time period, participation in after-school programs has increased 460 per cent (from 58 to 268 kids).
“Perhaps most notably, the Cube is unable to service all the interested youth in our community because it’s too small — in 2021, every youth program was filled with a wait list,” said KCA member Jayme Moye in March.
“The current facility is too small to accommodate Olympic-regulation rope-climbing walls and speed- climbing walls.”
KCA would be responsible for all cost associated with site permitting, preparation, construction and long-term maintenance and operations.
Source: Kootenay Climbing Association