After more than seven years in operation, The Ville Cooperative will cease to operate at the end of 2023.
In late October, the board and staff of the Ville Cooperative, a non-profit organization that has operated the former Alexander Gibson Memorial School in Marysville as a community centre, made the difficult decision to dissolve its operations by the end of 2023. In a release circulated more than a month ago, the organization cited heavy debt brought on the pandemic as a major factor in its decision.
Information regarding the closure was recirculated again this week. The full announcement can be found below.
It is important to note that although The Ville has always been closely associated with the former school, the building, known as The Unity Centre, is actually owned by a separate business and will continue to operate in a new, developing capacity.
Over 7 years ago, we had a number of community partners, individuals, and donors come together to support the vision of creating “a holistic community centre that promotes health, sustainability, and partnership.” We have has so many incredible memories in the Unity Community Centre (UCC) and are grateful for the original building owners who provided flexibility and in-kind contributions to help The Ville Cooperative become established.
With a heavy heart, we must share some news with you. After several months of working through different options, The Ville Coop has made the difficult decision to cease all operations, and our volunteer board is working towards dissolving the organization by the end of this year. The challenges we faced were magnified by the impact of the Covid, which, as you know, affected many community organizations like ours. We find ourselves grappling with a significant debt burden that, unfortunately, we lack the means and capacity to address.
While this chapter of The Ville Coop is coming to a close, we’re thrilled to share the exciting news that the management and owners of the Unity Community Centre are dedicated to preserving the learning labs, including the Woodshop, Pottery Studio, and Community Gardens. Their plan is to continue to enlist the support of volunteers to ensure the sustainability of these community spaces as a social enterprise. The Ville Coop has been one of several community organizations that have found a home at the UCC, and we’re delighted to hear that many of the original organizations will continue to operate from this center such as the Greater Fredericton Social Innovation(GFSI)’s Gathering Space and many others.
We genuinely appreciate your interest, membership, and the invaluable support the community has provided to us. We extend our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please bear with us as community volunteers as we navigate through these difficult times to the best that we can.
We recognize that there may be a lot of questions surrounding everything that is going on, thus our board is trying our best to address the areas where possible.
What will happen to the existing community learning labs such as the Woodshop, Pottery Studio & Agricultural spaces?
We are working with the management team at the UCC to work through the next steps with community volunteers. At this point, UCC is working through a number of pieces, but overall, in order to maintain these spaces, volunteers and donors will be needed to help sustain it. The management team would love to maintain these spaces and is currently working through different models to ensure the spaces can be financial sustainable. The UCC will communicate with those effected directed once they have shared their contact information above.
Is the building still open and available for rent and community use?
YES, the building is still available for rent. More info on this, in the meantime fill out this booking request form OR email email@example.com and a team member will get back to you as quickly as possible. Revenue from the rentals help to sustain the building for the other 15+ community organizations and groups who call it home. For any other inquiries: please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
What about the Re-Connect Afterschool Program?
The families who were directly impacted by the closure has been notified 30 days prior. The final day of the Re-Connect program is Friday, Oct 27th.
What happens to existing items that were donated over the years?
We are working with the UCC to help organize those items with the goal of keeping them for community use. Any excess items will be donated or may be sold at a community yard sale to help cover other final expenses.