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City, arts council take first step towards fire hall agreement

The City and the Cranbrook and District Arts Council (CDAC) have signed a memorandum of understanding surrounding the potential future use of the former downtown fire hall as a permanent facility for the council and an Arts Centre.

The city was quick to clarify that city council has not committed the former Fire Hall No. 1 for the arts council, but rather that the memorandum allows it to assess the viability of repurposing the building and to demonstrate that it can raise the funds necessary.

Council would need to approve any plan that sees the arts council move into the building.

“Under the memorandum of understanding both the city and the CDAC agree to maintain an open dialogue, participate in meetings and working groups, and develop a business relationship that enhances the project’s probability for success,” explained Chris Zettel, the city’s corporate communication officer.

He noted it does not create a partnership relationship or joint venture around the future use of the fire hall.

“This is an important first step in potentially finding a permanent home for the arts in Cranbrook and the arts are important from an economic, cultural and healthy community perspective,” Mayor Wayne Stetski said.

The city will also be removing the asbestos from the building at a projected cost of $130,000.

“Removing the asbestos is the responsible thing to do,” Stetski said. “As the landlord we need to ensure future tenants can safely occupy the building.”

The work will be contracted out and qualified city staff will be available as technical advisors for the engineering assessment.

Council approved the $130,000 for the asbestos removal project in the 2014 budget.

Zettel said it is a necessary step to ensure the building is safe for occupancy regardless of who the future tenant will be.

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