A dwindling and aging membership base prompted the Penticton Kinsmen Disability Resource Centre Society to make a historic decision on Wednesday (March 9).
After operating at the city’s iconic CPR Station for more than 30 years, the community-based organization has decided to gift the property at 216 Hastings Ave. to another non-profit organization. Who that new operator is, however, is still unknown.
“The society has decided that we still have a long-range vision for this building, but it can only go bigger and better,” said the society’s director Norm Dishkin.
Proposals from new prospective organizations will be accepted until 2 p.m. on April 29.
“We will review those applications to see if they align with our vision,” he added. “But if we don’t find that within a reasonable amount of time, this site will carry on and we’ll keep it going as long as we can.”
The Penticton Kinsmen Club has been involved in a number of landmark community initiatives over the last several decades.
From its involvement in starting the Boys and Girls Club on Edmonton Avenue to building local bus benches and helping with the construction of affordable housing on Pickering Street, the club has been there for the community every step of the way.
And that’s why Wednesday’s announcement wasn’t the end of an era, according to the society’s board members. Instead, it was the start of ensuring the storied community legacy is carried on by someone else.
“We’re looking for a service club or non-profit organization to take this building over and continue on with the society’s vision,” said Dishkin.
“Yes, we’re aging and yes, we’d like to hand it on. But we want to make sure it goes to the right candidate.”
The historic CPR Station, a three-storey building valued at almost $1.8 million by BC Assessment in the summer of 2021, is a place that mayor John Vassilaki remembers spending time at 65 years ago when he and his family first came to the community from Halifax. And in recent years, it’s been the place where the mayor’s grandchildren attended pre-school.
“This place is very significant to my family, it’s a wonderful building and I’d hate to ever see it go,” Vassilaki said inside the CPR Station during Wednesday’s announcement.
Preserving the building’s history, which includes being part of the Canadian Pacific Railway and serving as the Kettle Valley Railway Station, is among the top priorities during the upcoming transition.
That’s why if there is no non-profit organization suited to operate it, the city will take over and ensure the CPR Station is part of Penticton’s history for the long run, Vassilaki added.
The local disability resource centre was formed by the Kinsmen Club for the sole purpose of operating the landmark building through the efforts of club member Pat Duncan, the former publisher of the Penticton Western News and Summerland Review. Duncan died in February, 2010.
“We have lost some key members of the society, including Pat Duncan, Steve Gjukich, Brian Hval and John Reynen,” said the society’s treasurer Dirk Ordze.
The losses, tagged with a shrinking membership group sparked Wednesday’s announcement.
Proposals from established not-for-profit organizations can be emailed to Richard P. Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.