Peachland Historic School to be shared by three community groups

New plan for historic school

The Peachland Community Arts Council and two other community organizations will run the Peachland Historic School under a plan presented to council on Tuesday.

Mayor Patrick Van Minsel proposed that the arts council, the Bat Education Ecological Protection Society and Okanagan Folk School share costs under a four-year, $1 lease with the municipality.

Arts council representatives had just completed a presentation to council in which they stressed the need for a plan that would provide them with a stable, long-term future.

Last week, the municipality announced the arts council would no longer operate the Peachland visitor centre, which will move to the museum and be run by the Peachland Historical Society, starting next year.

That has apparently aroused strong feelings in the community, which prompted the mayor to announce his plan sooner than he had intended.

“Some of my fellow councillors and I have received inappropriate comments, particularly on social media,” said Van Minsel in a statement read at the council meeting. “Disagreements we can handle, but as we promised to always show respect to you, we ask that you show respect to us and not use abusive, intimidating and derogatory language in your comments to Peachland council members and district staff.”

Staff will negotiate a lease with the three groups and bring it back to council for approval.

Councillors were concerned some details still need to be ironed out, but were generally enthusiastic about the proposal.

“This excites the heck out of me,” said Coun. Keith Thom.

“That’s a fascinating idea,” said Coun. David Collins. “I guess if the three societies like the idea, I’m mostly going to defer to them. At first thought, those three groups can really create something special in that place.”

By dumping the visitor centre, “you can just get back to what you love to do best,” Collins told the arts group reps.

Each organization will have two members on a board overseeing the yellow building, along with a municipal staff member and a council representative.

Van Minsel estimated maintenance costs at about $20,000-$22,000. A bat colony lives in the attic.

In their presentation, arts society officials outlined the many events they put on each year, including Canada Day celebrations, the heArts festival, and a community Christmas market and lightup.

“It’s quite a list,” said Paula McLaughlin.

The three speakers were accompanied at the meeting by large contingent of supporters.

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