Joyce Helweg is continuing the charge on keeping the old courthouse alive.
After council was considering returning the lease back to the Province of British Columbia earlier this year when they no longer had a known use for the aging building, Helweg jumped at the chance.
She contacted some other potential user groups and asked the District of Fort St. James to consider keeping the lease with the province in order to allow the building to be used by local non-profit groups for storage, meetings and possibly a museum later on.
So far, Helweg has some buy-in from the local community arts council, and she’s looking for others who might need some storage space to get involved so the user group can grow.
Helweg said the building does need some work, which will require some grant funding, to upgrade windows and heating, and eventually security and fencing, however, it doesn’t need much to get started.
“It needs considerable work but the most work it needs is cleaning,” she said. “We’ll just do it one step at a time.”
Helweg is interested in getting in touch with any non-profit organizations in the community who might be interested in using the building and hopes the groups would have representation on the committee for the building, but they will run it as a committee of the council, so it will not need to become its own society.
The building itself could be a useful facility for local non-profits, hopes Helweg, but it is also worth keeping for its own historical significance.
“It really is one of our heritage buildings,” she said.
The building was the Hudson’s Bay Store, on the site where the now closed Northern Store still sits.
Then it was moved by the Mormon Church, who used it for awhile as a church.
The building was then sold to the provincial government and used as a government agent’s office, then later as a courthouse.
Anyone interested in using the facility for a non-profit can get in touch with Helweg at email@example.com
The group will also be holding a contest to name the new-old building, with submissions due by the end of September. Look for information on prizes and how to submit entries in the next District of Fort St. James newsletter.