Earlier this month the Falher Centre Chevaliers board, Societe du Centre Communautaire Rivière, announced the facility was in dire financial straits and needing major assistance from the community to stay open.
Their annual general meeting was held Jan. 23 to try to elicit more help on the committee and to increase interest from the public in helping raise money to keep the Centre, affectionately called Pink Elephant, in operation.
“Anytime the situation got better, unexpected expenses combined with loan payments that we took out to be able to operate, those bills started coming in and that nice cushion that we got started going down again,” says manager Colby Robbins of years of fundraising but during COVID barely being able to keep their heads above water.
“We did see some events and some wedding rentals that did help some things a bit, but now in 2023 we only have two rentals for the whole year. And when it comes to weddings it would be typically be rented by now.”
Robbins says there could be some larger events still coming for the year, but they’re fearful that because it’s already so late in January they may not have more substantial rental income for the year.
The purpose of the AGM was to also entice more members to sit on the board. Before the meeting there were only three active board members and two paid employees.
Robbins says 18 people attended the meeting in person and four people attended via Zoom.
“We were extremely impressed and happy with the turnout,” says Robbins.
“We added eight new members to the board, bringing the number up to 11. Having new people on the board is beneficial because it brings fresh perspective, new ideas and different community connections that we didn’t have before.”
The committee hopes with so many new individuals participating, they can host more fundraisers and come up with more ideas to keep the hall in operation.
A meeting has been set for early February to elect new executive members and to pool ideas for obtaining financial relief.
Members of the committee attended two council meetings earlier in the month to try to get financial help from the municipalities but were disappointed they could not assist them.
“It could be one of the best halls in the area but right now we can’t afford to put more money into the building,” says Robbins.
“We’re really hopefully that in the next year we can improve,” she adds.
Robbins explains many of the available grants are matching grants, making it impossible for the board to apply for many of them. The hall costs $8,000 per month to operate, and through COVID the Centre ate through any money that was in reserve before 2020.
“Our hall does leak water,” says Robbins. “A couple times this summer we had weddings go to set up and there was water all along a wall. Our boiler system is also not optimal, and we need to do a flush on the system, which the contractor quoted us $10,000.”
Robbins says the board is currently holding a 50/50 to try to raise funds to correct safety issues the hall is experiencing. She hopes community members will purchase 50/50 tickets to help fund some of the required repairs and operational costs. The fundraiser will remain open until Valentine’s Day. If you are interested in buying 50/50 tickets, please visit the Centre Chevaliers Facebook page where you will find a link to purchase tickets.