Friends of the Mindemoya Old School hoping to obtain long-term lease on building

The Friends of the Mindemoya Old School organization is hoping for a long-term lease from the municipality in order to secure funding to see the century building repurposed. Expositor file photo

MINDEMOYA—Friends of the Mindemoya Old School (FOMOS) is in negotiations with staff of the municipality of Central Manitoulin in hopes of obtaining a long-term lease agreement for the building.

“We are in negotiations with the municipal office staff on a proposal for a long-term lease,” confirmed Alison McAllister of FOMOS last week. “It has been a long time since we provided an update and I’m sure people have been wondering what is taking place.”

Ms. McAllister pointed out, “there are a lot of funders who are waiting until we have a signed lease. It does sound good in terms of receiving grant funding. We have a couple of grants that we applied for, and budgets have been supplied, but they need to know we have a long-term lease agreement in place with the municipality.”

“We’re pretty positive a lease can be worked out,” said Ms. McAllister. “We have put together two surveys on which we are seeking input, sent out two surveys (one is a development of a creative hub in the Mindemoya Old School, and the other a seniors’ survey) as to what people would like to see in a seniors’ centre in the building,”

“And we’re looking at making sure the creative hub and seniors’ centre would not be limited to residents of the municipality. For instance, if workshops were held on protecting oneself from fraud scams, through the survey we would like to know if people would be interested in this workshop or other guest speakers.”

The Mindemoya Old School is envisioned as a long-term, sustainable facility where artists, artisans, performers, musicians, and creators would be able to pursue and develop their skills. The organization is hoping to cluster creative people together and help set the stage for broader regeneration and make the Old School a year-round destination for those in our community, as well as those visiting from outside the areas. “So, for instance, artists/crafters would be interested in renting space on the main level hub area of the building. We are asking in the surveys if seniors are interested in lifelong learning activities, music, arts, crafts, jewelry, writing, crocheting, cooking classes, maybe holding weekly lunches for all seniors, along with things like dancing, yoga, clubs, playing shuffleboard or other activities,” explained Jan McQuay, president of FOMOS.

“The creative hub, which would be on the main level, would be the hub for the building and the survey asks if artists/crafters would be interested in renting space in the building,” said Ms. McQuay. “A business or vendor would be able to rent their own space in the hub area, and visitors-potential customers would be able to browse around and check out each vendors’ space and could purchase their wares. We want to gauge interest from crafters/artists if they would like to rent space and sell their products on their own, or we could provide a central cashier who would keep track of what is sold from each business-vendor.”

Ms. McAllister said the FOMOS idea is to have the seniors’ centre in the basement area of the Old School with the main floor where the artists/crafters area would be set up.

“We are plowing ahead and negotiating with the municipality on, hopefully, a long-term lease,” said Ms. McQuay.

“We are preparing to send out a newsletter to members, but we have found ourselves with lots of things but fewer people to do these tasks,” said Ms. McAllister. “We are looking for volunteers to help in specific areas, such as grant writing, or someone who would like to, for instance, help with the newsletter, or to plan a fundraiser.”

“We would like to get some younger people involved as well,” said Ms. McAllister.  

Ms. McQuay noted that FOMOS is now a year old. “We are now eligible to do different funding activities, like holding 50/50 draws and this is in the works.”

Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin, told The Expositor, “council was presented a business plan and this was turned over to our office staff to work with FOMOS once they come up with a plan or proposal for a possible lease and recommendations and then this would come back to council.”

Ms. McQuay said those interested in filling out the surveys can get a copy of the FOMOS creative hub survey by emailing manitoulinclicknclay@gmail.com. The seniors’ survey can also be sent by emailing the same address. Those interested in filling out a survey can also get the survey by contacting Ms. McQuay at 705-377-4045.