Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Seaside Centre in Beach Meadows, Queens County, is looking for a bit of help from the residents it serves.
The multi-purpose facility, the former District 7 school, was taken over by a board of directors in 1994 which established the Seaside Recreation and Community Centre.
Located on Eastern Shore Road, it's used for everything from yoga to craft shows and weddings to workshops. It serves as a meeting point for residents living in Beach Meadows, Eagle Head, West and East Berlin and Port Medway.
At the latest Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council meeting January 26, the board brought forward a request for a five-year area rate of .04 cents for every $100 of the assessed value of a resident's property to help with rising costs and plans for the future.
If the rate is passed by the council, it will net the centre between $28,000 and $30,000 more per year.
"We normally bring in about $20,000 per year with fundraisers. But in the last four years we have actually got behind, spending out more than we brought in," explained Sandy Cross, president of the Seaside Centre board of directors. She said the area rate idea was brought up a few years ago.
Cross said expenses continue to rise at the centre, while fundraising and donations are dwindling. Moreover, last year the pandemic put a wrench into fundraising efforts. Several events, including weddings that would have brought in extra money, had to be cancelled.
Originally, the board was going to apply for a rate of .02 cents, but Cross said that would not cover all the expenses and it would also not allow enough money to be put aside in the future to apply for grants.
According to Cross, to be eligible for many grants an organization has to have between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of the money to put towards a project.
In last year's financial statements (2019-20), the board recorded a loss of $6,346.08. In 2018-19, the centre saw a small surplus of just over $2,000. In the 2021-22 budget, the board is hoping events return closer to normal and is planning for a small surplus.
According to Cross, there are several projects the board would like to undertake. These include putting in heat pumps and accessible washrooms, replacing steps to the basement, revitalizing the baseball field and basketball court, and adding some more games such as darts and washer toss. She said, ideally, the board members also would like to have picnic tables on the beach for people to enjoy.
"We want the building to be more than just somewhere to go when you need to have a function," said Cross. "We want to get things going there. We do have a vision for the future."
The tax assessment area covers two of RQM's electoral districts: District 4 and 6. Originally, RQM council had planned a public meeting followed by a vote on the subject.
However, unless current health regulations change, that won't be allowed.. The plan now is to have the Seaside Community Centre board produce and distribute a flyer presenting its case.
RQM Mayor Darlene Norman said the municipality would then host about a 10- or 12-hour voting day where people can go in and cast their ballot – Yay or Nay.
The result of the vote will be considered as the RQM council makes a decision during budget deliberations in the next few months.