Carol Schaffer will let Upper Clearwater Community Hall get its grant-in-aid after all.
Speaking during an Upper Clearwater Farmers Institute meeting held in the hall on Thursday evening, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Wells Gray Country said she would recommend to the TNRD board of directors that it reverse its earlier decision and allow the Institute to get its annual grant for 2015, which is close to $5,000.
The final decision would be the board’s, she emphasized (however, it would be unusual for the other directors to overrule a recommendation from a local director).
Schaffer gave two reasons for her changing her mind. The first was that the Institute, which owns and operates the hall, had taken down No Trespassing signs that it had set up around the hall last spring.
Critics had charged that the signs, which went up shortly before the Institute held its annual general meeting, were intended to discourage people from using the hall.
The Farmers Institute, on the other hand, had said the signs were there to prevent tourists from staying overnight in the hall’s parking lot.
Schaffer said that she would have no problems if the Institute wants to put up No Overnight Parking signs at the hall.
The Wells Gray Country director said the second reason for changing her mind was that she had been impressed by what had been said earlier during Thursday’s meeting about how the Farmers Institute was trying to make sure the hall is available to all users and that people know it is available.
Schaffer said the extension would be for 2015 only. Whether the grant-in-aid would be continued in 2016 and future years would depend on how successful the Farmers Institute was in working with her and in reaching out to disaffected members of the community.
The meeting was chaired by Farmers Institute vice-president Ulrich Patalong.
In his opening statement, Patalong said, “I re-affirm that this hall and grounds have been available for everyone in this community and the wider community to use and enjoy, and currently remain just as available through a simple booking process.”
Patalong noted their appreciation of the monies given UCFI to finance the hall’s restoration, improvements and operation.
He reminded people that the hall would not be the outstanding facility that it is without the many hundreds of hours donated by volunteers.
The majority of those volunteers remain members of the UCFI, he said.
The Farmers Institute vice-president also recalled that a survey carried out earlier this year found a slim majority of Upper Clearwater residents were in favor of continuing the grant-in-aid for at least this year.
The second question in the survey was less clear as it gave three options.
According to a previous report in the Times, of the 57 replies, 27 selected Option A, that the TNRD should, “… continue to collect taxes for a grant-in-aid to the Upper Clearwater Farmers Institute for the operation of the Upper Clearwater Community Hall,” 19 selected Option B, that the TNRD should, “… not collect taxes but should keep the grant-in-aid service in place just in case funding is required for the community hall in the years ahead,” and 11 selected Option C, that the TNRD should, “… carry out a public assent process to eliminate the grant-in-aid service entirely.”
With a multiple option question, the one with the most votes should win, Patalong argued.
Vote needed to finalize constitution
B.C.’s superintendent of farmers institutes has reviewed a proposed new constitution and bylaws for Upper Clearwater Farmers Institute and recommended some changes, secretary Nick Frost reported.
Although the superintendent liked some of the ideas in the document, there was some wording that could cause some concern and needed to be tightened up, he said.
A revised version has been sent out to the members for review.
A special general meeting of the membership is tentatively planned for Oct. 15 to approve the new constitution and bylaws.
“I ask everyone here to tell non-members to join and take part before the final decision is taken,” Frost said.
Close to 20 Upper Clearwater residents attended Thursday evening’s meeting. Ron Storie, the TNRD director of community services, attended as well.