Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Lester Centre Roofing plans to move forward with some civic funding shuffling and hopes for a PRPA grant

Concerns over the Lester Centre roof have the City shifting some budget
money from the 2024 financial plan and seeking a grant opportunity
from the Prince Rupert Port Authority
(image from previous City of PR Bid calls for roofing work)

Prince Rupert City Council reviewed a request Monday to amend the 2024 Financial Plan, the focus that of taking money from a planned replacement of the Third and Fulton traffic light and redirecting it towards what are now seemingly urgent repairs required for the Lester Centre of the Arts.

The scope of the roof repair project has increased from a original cost of 200,000 dollars  to what is now  a million dollar repair with the city looking to address half of the cost, seeking a grant from the Prince Rupert Port Authority towards the other fifty percent.

For the most part, the Council members were in unison towards the importance of the Lester Facility to the community and how not addressing the roofing issues was not going to happen on their watch.

"Well I guess, I mean I would prefer to see the Lester Centre obviously kept in good working condition.  

You know like we discussed earlier there  you and I, the state of the town where you have to  rob Peter to pay Paul and here's a prime example of you know how we can't afford to do everything. 

And you know we have to steal from one bank account to pay for something and we need that money in another bank account.

To me I can live with a flashing red light worst case scenario at the intersection, versus having a leaky roof destroying a legacy building in our community. 

So Im definitely all in support of doing this"  -- Councillor Wade Niesh

Councillor Nick Adey also acknowledged how the roof trumps the traffic light.

"Im also in support of it, I think the choice between the two is pretty clear and it's an easy one"

He did have questions related to how the funding was being reallocated,  noting of some of the other challenges in the community that residents want addressed.

"We don't really have a lot of choices, we have to replace the roof of the theatre, but I know that there also have been other needs identified in the community for which money is not available ... and there may be people that are interested in now this money materialized for this purpose in a way that makes sense" 

Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben outlined what the city has in mind moving forward.

"There is no new money, we're actually applying for a grant for half of the project cost.  

All we've done is we've postponed and reallocated the money that we had placed in the budge for Third and Fulton. 

We have  moved that allocation to make up our half of the Lester Centre roof in total and we are applying for a grant with the PRPA as well for an equal fifty percent in order to make up the one million and thirty thousand dollar allocation."

The Councillor noted of the aspirational hope towards the loan

"That answers the question, I guess I'm left with the aspirational hope that the grant comes through because Im not sure what we do if it doesn't"

It was a sentiment echoed by the CFO.

"I would agree, it is an aspirational hope, it's hopes and dreams to keep a vital community asset going"

While they are hopeful of a positive outcome for their Grant application to the Prince Rupert Port Authority; no one around the Council Chamber  picked up on  Councillor Adey's observation on what the City will do if the funding request doesn't work out.

Councillor Teri Forster returned to the theme of reallocations from the fall budget and  wondered if other things from the Fall budget might be less urgent and the money used for other purposes.

"I want to check in on something. 

While we were going through the budget  and we were going through all of those, we heard that we had cut absolutely everything and everything in the budget was a must have.

And while I'm really excited that we can put off doing the Fulton Street lights, I think many people in our community might  if there's other things that perhaps are not as bad as what we once thought that we could delay ... for the roof or other projects  

As Councillor Adey said; how did we decide what was the biggest priority, is there a possibility that there is other things that we could put off"

City Manager Rob Buchan took on that topic noting how the Budget items of the fall remain important elements. 

"I would characterize the choice between the lights and the roof, as choosing between two must haves. 

And Council could be faced with you know with circumstances that may  cause you to postpone another important must have project, for one that has even greater needs.

So I don't think I would want to characterize any of the items that were in the budget   ...  as not being very important  and in the must have category"

Councillor Cunningham observed of the far reaching impact of the Lester Centre situation

"I think you know it's cause and effect here, the light it needs to be replaced but the effect of the roof failing on the Lester Centre is a far reaching effect than a light. 

You know like there's other projects that  you know could be on the cusp, but there's no question here the Lester Centre has to be protected.

The asset, just the physical asset alone, if that roof fails the whole asset is gone. 

So it's not even an if,  and or but, you've got  to do something to save that asset"

You can review some of those items from the Fall budget here

The CFO"s slideshow of budget requests from the fall can be viewed here

Of note from that fall Budget process was a correspondence  at the time from the Lester Centre, which noted of the roof challenges and other concerns over stable funding for the Centre.

The full discussion on the Lester Centre roof, the shift in funding and if other Budget requests could likewise see some adjustments can be reviewed through the city's Video archive starting at the  one hour mark of Monday's Council session

More notes of interest from the Monday Council session can be explored from our Council Timeline feature. 


  1. Why not Hope CityWest gives a grant. Why is CityWest always ignored?

    1. CityWest always seems to be off limits, a no-go area when it comes to finances.

    2. Increase the hotel tax for short term period.
      Citywest doesn’t invoice the city next year for services.
      Essential travel only for civic staff the rest of the year.
      Hard decisions, but time to show some fiscal restraint.

  2. Has the reroofing
    gone out to tender?