Located at 611 Broadway, the Kinsmen Building is flanked by the post office and the former Nakusp Music Festival/Emergency Services building, now Waterbridge Ferries Inc. Built in the 1960s, it was donated to the Village of Nakusp in 1969 for use as a health facility with a 40-year contract in place. Then in 2009, the village started to collect rent from its tenants.
Five years later, at the beginning of 2014, primary tenant Interior Health ultimately gave notice and chose to relocate its public health nurse unit to the Arrow Lakes hospital. This left the ultra-part-time Nakusp Options for Sexual Health (OPT) as the only tenant. Their use was minimal: only two evenings a month. The OPT clinic had been able to piggyback on the IHA’s tenancy and was not being charged rent for their use. With the nurse unit gone, this left huge concerns for the volunteer-run clinic which provides free disease screening, assistance with birth control, sexual health education/counseling and many other related services available to the general public. Preferring not to move, and not in a position to take on the monthly rent and operations of the building, OPT volunteers went to village council for suggestions.
The result of this was that OPT volunteers were asked to come up with a business plan in order to be able to stay put. This ignited the idea to attract partners for the creation of a collaborative, multi-use facility in order to stay in the location that they have occupied for more than 16 years.
The Village Council meeting on Monday September 8 saw Cassia Parent, Janis Neufeld and Marie Wrede bring forward a unique suggestion. Representing the Nakusp and Area Youth Society and Sufferfest, they shared their proposal: a plan to purchase the building from the village using grant money. Additional organizations on board include the Arrow Lakes Arts Council, Options for Sexual Health, Freedom Quest, the North Kootenay Sports and Recreation Council and others. They call themselves the Kinship Connections Steering Committee.
“It’s a really exciting thing for all of us to be collaborating on this. It’s very progressive,” said Janis Neufeld who is the Event Director for Sufferfest, the organization who will be the primary owner and have its name on the title.
Able to access multiple grants from different sectors, the ladies behind this project believe that they can obtain enough funding for the purchase. They are excited about a combined effort to secure space for now and the future. Being non-profit is tough these days. Finding affordable office and meeting space can be a challenge. A broad-minded, co-operative effort such as this could be win-win for all involved.
“We’ve gotten really good support so far. It could happen pretty quickly,” added Neufeld. “CBT (Columbia Basin Trust) deadline (for grant money) is November.”
CBT is one of the project’s biggest supporters and potentially a source of the grant money that will be responsible for funding the purchase.
Linda Tynan, CAO was not available for comment although the village has had the building for sale in the past.