Lenora Fletcher, executive director of Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society (MYFRS), gave a presentation to council on April 9 asking the city to renew the lease for the group’s teen centre building at 1721 Coldwater Ave.

Although MYFRS lost the contract for operating the teen centre and other services to an organization from Kamloops, they still plan to use the building to offer other family services.

MYFRS owns the building but leases the land from the city.

“We were hoping to renew our lease agreement for the location but we didn’t achieve that,” Fletcher told the Herald on Friday.

Council was informed by city administration that due to the change of services, MYFRS may not be able to use the building as the land is zoned for P3, which is for non-profit use.

“Council was ready to make a decision after I had finished my presentation,” said Fletcher. “The next thing I knew, he (Matt Noble, city administration officer) was saying, ‘We can’t make a decision because we have this new bylaw decision that has come into play that could affect your lease.'”

MYFRS is a charitable, non-profit organization, said Fletcher.

“We use that facility to provide cost-effective services to the community. In the past, we used it primarily for a teen centre. But, of course, we used it for other services. If something changes, I don’t know what we’d do.”

Merritt Mayor Susan Roline said the city has an agreement with MYFRS to allow the building to be on city land.

“We don’t charge them rent or taxes for the land because they’re a non-profit organization providing services to the residents,” she said. “If they change now the use of what they’re providing there, it could restrict what they’re allowed to do there. We don’t know yet. We have to figure that out because they (MYFRS) came with a delegation advising of their intentions. Now, council will have to work with them to see what exactly those intentions are and if it fits the zoning of that property. So if they go to anything that creates a profit situation for them or creates a business, it changes the game.”

City staff will meet with the directors from MYFRS to find out what the plans are for the teen centre building. Staff will make a report for council, and council will vote at a future meeting on whether or not to renew the lease with MYFRS.

“They have that lease under a special agreement with the city,” said Matt Noble, city chief administrative officer. “That lease is coming due shortly and now they’re changing the use, or trying to change the use of that structure. For example, there are certain activities they cannot undertake in that zone. If they were planning on at some point, for example, daycare – it’s not zoned for that. They need to work with rec and parks or leisure services and be clear. The facilities have to be suited to the purpose they are directed.”

Noble said the city needs to know what the exact plans are for the building, before giving direction. He said MYFRS has been vague with their future plans for the teen centre.

“Tell us the programs you want to run out of that structure,” he said. “If they’re not allowed in that zone, we can’t allow you to do them. That’s the law.”