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BC Conference Assists The Centre at Naramata

At its regular meeting November 7-9, 2013, the BC Conference Executive agreed to provide immediate financial assistance to The Centre at Naramata.

BC Conference has agreed to forward $2.6 million over the next year to the Centre. The money will be used to pay the existing bank and other debt of $1.8 million, with the balance to cover urgently required maintenance expenses and likely operating losses in 2014

Monies beyond $2.6 million, up to $ 4 million, will be considered in the future if the Centre meets key objectives in its business plan and operations.

Background

The Centre approached BC Conference in September 2012 with a request to assume the Centre’s debt which was proving to be unpayable. Operating deficits, while decreasing over the past two years, had used up the Centre’s funds and were at an unsustainable level.

The Executive Secretary engaged Colliers International Consulting to assess the operations and assets of the Centre to determine what changes could be made to enable the Centre to be sustainable.

Colliers completed its report in June. Its Executive Summary states: “Contrasted with its rich history and stunning setting, the Centre’s current financing and operational situation is dire. In short, the Centre cannot continue to operate without substantial structural changes to its operating model as well as additional outside funding to support short term cash flow challenges as well as long term deferred and immediately required Capital Improvements to most of the 30 buildings and servicing infrastructure.”

The Centre at Naramata’s board was advised in July that the Centre’s bank would not continue to finance the Centre unless a major reduction in its loan could be achieved in November. Support after that time would depend upon the Centre being able to produce a positive cash flow by year end, a condition deemed to be impossible by the Board. As a result, the Centre was faced with the real possibility of closing and declaring bankruptcy before the end of 2013.

After assessing the options with the Finance Council and the Centre, the Executive Secretary recommended to the Conference Executive that the financial assistance be given.

The Conference monies will enable the management and Board at the Centre to continue working, with the assistance of professionals paid for by the Conference, on a new business plan and structure. The Centre is working to improve its operating margin and to significantly expand the usage of the Centre. Conversations with potential church, education, and social enterprise partners, as well as special events sponsors, have been initiated. The professional assessment of the plan to date is positive, although the success in actually carrying it out cannot be predicted.

The Conference Executive feels quite strongly that the closure and sale of the Centre is completely unacceptable at this time. It felt that the Centre management and Board need and deserve time to continue developing a new, sustainable model that will see the Centre into the future.

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