The Sooke School District is looking to sell the Metchosin School, which now hosts community arts and seniors groups. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

MACCA president optimistic about organization’s future

Art Brendan isn’t concerned despite potential Metchosin School sale

The organization’s home might be on the market, but the chair of the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre Association (MACCA) says he isn’t concerned about their future.

Art Brendan, MACCA president, is optimistic even while the Sooke School District looks to divest itself of Metchosin School, the organization’s home since it began operations eight years ago.

“I don’t want to be falsely optimistic or confident but I do have faith that all the people that are negotiating have the best interest of Metchosin and the West Shore at heart here,” Brendan said.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns expressed interest in acquiring the property and turning it into a West Shore arts and culture hub in May and he confirmed at a June council meeting that a $700,000 offer was made for the property’s acquisition.

Ranns added that the school’s gymnasium could be used to house a 200-seat performing arts centre.

It’s a concept that has the full support of MACCA, Brendan said.

The Sooke School District currently has the property listed at $1.5 million.

According to Ranns, Brookes School – which is currently constructing a campus in Colwood – and CUPE have also expressed interest in the property, and both would be interested in working with Metchosin and its goals.

MACCA facilitates studio space for a variety of groups and artists, including the West Shore Arts Council, Metchosin Soap Works, the Seniors’ Information and Resource Centre and GLOW Art Studio and Gallery.

The organization also co-sponsors annual events such as Metchosin Day and the Sheep Dog Trials. “It’s been a very valuable space for the community not only in Metchosin, but the West Shore,” Brendan said, adding support from both council and Metchosin residents has been strong during this period of uncertainty.

“I think there’s been very positive support from [most] of the community … and they’re supportive of the mayor’s position as well.” He also credited the Sooke School District for how they’ve approached the process. “I can’t get upset and I’m not. We’re just hanging in there in good faith.”

In May, Sooke School District superintendent Jim Cambridge told the Gazette that they were pursuing a sale because there is little projected growth in the area, that revenue generated from rentals doesn’t properly cover the facility’s costs, and that the province has asked them to sell the building in light of plans for new schools.

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