Community groups who need some affordable school space might find an answer at Colleen Findlay Place.
Numerous organizations have been displaced by the hike in facility rental fees in the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge School District.
Faced with a budget shortfall of more than $5 million, the school stopped subsidizing gymnasium and other facility rentals. Rates shot up. Sea Cadets, Girl Guides and minor soccer were among the groups that were displaced. The Girl Guides, for example, had their gym rental rate go from $5 to $33.75 per hour. The groups have appealed, but their protests did not result in any breaks.
Colleen Findlay Place is the solution for some local non-profit organizations.
Shayne Findlay, the son of local dentist Jim and the late Colleen, makes affordable arrangements with local non-profit groups.
“It’s mostly nominal fees,” said Findlay. “For the most part, they’re paying less than they did with the school board.”
He has even offered deals for some free use of the facility, for groups to see whether the space works for them.
A karate club, a dance school and other groups have booked the space so far, and a daycare uses about half of the building during the daytime.
Colleen Findlay Place was Maple Ridge’s original schoolhouse, floated to Haney and set up on the banks of the Fraser in 1875. Maple Ridge Primary was later moved to its present site at 11601 Laity St., opposite the Ridge Meadows Hospital, and has since been expanded and modernized.
The building was purchased by Jim Findlay in 2004.
Now it has a carpeted gymnasium, a boardroom, a meeting room with an attached kitchen and several classrooms available for rent.
“The building is in great shape. We try to keep it up,” said Shayne.
Discovery Church, a non-denominational congregation, holds services there. Pastor Trevor Stearns helps run the facility.
The building is first a church.
“We’re in it for the faith,” is how Findlay puts it.
But that does not affect the management of the building to non-Christian groups.
Colleen Findlay, a mother of three, was murdered by a 15-year-old boy in 2002. Shayne said youth outreach is also an important part of the facility that bears her name.
“The more programs we have, the more children can get involved,” Findlay said. “We need to focus on youth before they become troubled youth.
“It’s about community here. We’re about young families, and building our community.”