The Sky Dragon Centre is too critical a social, political and cultural node in this city's landscape of civic engagement to let it fall by the wayside.
By RTH Staff
Published March 29, 2010
The Sky Dragon Centre has worked for years to advance social justice, citizen empowerment and creative change in Hamilton. They beat the odds and established a multi-use centre on King William St. between James and Hughson that has cultivated and sustained a vibrant community of activists, artists and even progressive entrepreneurs.
Now they're under threat of closure. Despite the fact that they've never missed a payment, their financier, the Teachers Credit Union, won't renew their $270,000 mortgage because because they are not meeting their debt-to-income ratio of 1.25:1 (i.e. they need to earn $1.25 in income for each dollar of debt).
Needless to say, conventional banks and most credit unions won't undertake the risk to support a non-profit cooperative, so Sky Dragon needs to get creative to find ways to refinance the mortgage. They have until April 18 to come up with new financing.
As director Kevin McKay explained in a recent email:
[T]he Coop needs to undergo structural changes in order to ensure its long-term financial viability, to improve its effectiveness, and to better involve the community. These changes involve modifying the Coop model and opening it up to different stakeholder groups, including community members and partner organizations. This process will take months to complete, but it needs to start now.
The most significant next step in the campaign will be a larger, more structured community meeting. At this meeting, the Coop's vision and operating history will be presented in detail, along with the structural challenges it has faced and continues to face. Coop board members will explain the various aspects of the Sky Dragon project, and reveal a plan for its renewal, growth and sustainability. Most importantly, community members will be asked to contribute their ideas and to help the board collectively generate solutions.
McKay has called for help in the following specific areas:
Financing a $270,000 first mortgage
Pro-bono legal and accounting help
Help promote the effort to save the Centre
Help communicating ongoing progress
Volunteer help for upcoming events
Tangible ways to support the Centre
Becoming a member of the new Co-op
If you drop into the Centre at 27 King William, you'll see a big whiteboard detailing what needs to be done. You can also share your ideas, suggestions and support.
Better yet, try to attend tonight's Save the Dragon meeting:
The Sky Dragon Centre is too critical a social, political and cultural node in this city's landscape of civic engagement to let it fall by the wayside. Now is the time to get involved to save the Centre - before we lose a city treasure as beautiful and important as any heritage building.
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