A local senior men's group has sued a community foundation after they didn't renew the group's lease.
The group says they invested nearly $10,000 in upgrades to a property under the Trinity Baptist Church Legacy Foundation (TBC) with the expectation they'd be using it for years to come.
In a notice of claim filed in B.C.'s small claims court last week, the Okanagan Men's Sheds Association says they're owed $9,958.61 from TBC for materials they used to renovate a space owned by the church, that the group had been using.
The Okanagan Men's Sheds Association is a group “dedicated to helping senior men to overcome loneliness and to enhance their wellbeing.” The non-profit organization is open to men of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, to share woodworking knowledge and skills and to socialize.
The group says they met with the foundation's executive director and property manager Darcy Smith after Gordon Zeigler had donated his Mayer Road property to the church. The property is now Helen's Acres Community Farm, a 24-acre farm that grows food to donate to social agencies in the Okanagan.
“It was agreed that the north approximately 1/4 portion of the existing storage building was suitable for the use of Men's Sheds,” the claim states.
“Although Men's Sheds sought a long-term lease, it was agreed between Men's Sheds and Trinity [Legacy Foundation] that the term would be for 19 months, from May 2019 to December 2020 with an over-holding clause stating that the lease would continue until a new lease was signed.”
During that 19 months, the group says they made “significant improvements” to the storage building on the property to make it suitable for their needs, “based on the understanding that the relationship between the parties would be in perpetuity.”
“The contributions of Men's Sheds to the building turned it from a non-heated storage and workshop area to a renovated year-round usable woodworking workshop and office/meeting area,” the claim states, adding that $9,958.61 was spent on materials, while the labour was donated by members.
After the lease expired, the group says TBC had prepared a new lease that the group was prepared to sign. But on the day they had arranged to meet and sign the lease, the foundation told them they could no longer lease the building.
“Trinity has been unjustly enriched by its actions in refusing to lease the building to the Men's Sheds,” the group claims.
The Trinity Baptist Church Legacy Foundation has not filed a formal response to the civil claim. None of the Men's Sheds allegations has been proven in court.
*This article has been amended to reflect the fact that The claim has been filed against Kelowna Trinity Baptist Church Legacy Foundation which is a solely independent organization. Although originally founded by members of Trinity Baptist Church in 2006, the Kelowna TBC Legacy Foundation operates autonomously governed by their own Board of Directors and activities.