User groups evicted from community portable

Several West Kelowna community groups are about to get a change of scenery.

West Kelowna’s community portable, which is used by about 15 groups, will be converted into additional office space to accommodate six to 10 district employees.

Among the groups affected are the Westside Elks, Mount Boucherie Senior Secondary, Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team, Gellatly Bay Trails and Parks Society and Westside Minor Hockey.

Last year 1,028 hours were spent at the portable by user groups.

Martha Unger, owner of Westside Driving School, said she rents the portable primarily in the winter and uses it as a classroom setting.

She said that she's not necessarily opposed to switching her teaching location; however, it is important that she stays in the same general area.

"We deal mainly with high school clients, so I would like to have it close to the high school," said Unger.

The district has four options for alternative meeting locations, including: the Municipal Hall committee room, Council Chambers, Lakeview Community Hall and the RCMP public board room.

Groups that used the portable for activities other than meetings will have the option of transferring to Lakeview Community Hall.

The renovations will cost the district $29,000 and will provide enough office space for the next year or two. The construction is fairly simple and will likely be completed in the next two months.

Coun. Duane Ophus disagrees with council’s decision to convert the community portable. He said that user groups were promised they wouldn’t have their space taken away.

“I am not prepared to now go back on that promise and convert the community portable into office space,” Ophus told council Tuesday.

West Kelowna council was given three options to consider. They turned down a suggestion to spend $400,000 to purchase two new portables and also gave the thumbs down to complete a two or three storey building expansion to the Mount Boucherie Complex.

Coun. Bryden Winsby said investing too many dollars into improvements to the Mount Boucherie location would be a “Band-aid solution.”

“I don’t like the idea of expanding this complex. We’ve already spent $1.2 million,” said Winsby.

“I think we’re putting off the inevitable. At some point, we’re going to have to decide when a real Municipal Hall becomes affordable.”

Council agreed to have a report conducted outlining how the medium and long-term needs for a Municipal Hall can be accelerated within the current strategic planning process.

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