Sunday, January 29, 2006

Space Needed

Our meeting had finally decided it was time to move, although late enough that the large group of newcomers had faded away and we were back down to our usual number.

Then we found the perfect space: a small, abandoned Christian Science church that had been bought up by a nonprofit that only used it on weekdays. It was the right amount of space in a nice neighbourhood surrounded by parks.

But after weeks of back-and-forth, they've informed us that if they rent space to us, Revenue Canada will revoke their charitable status. In short, according to the law, nonprofits can't rent out their property.

This is a major blow. Now we're back to Square One.

Our meeting isn't large enough to buy a building right now, although the city is large enough to support a large meeting. The problem has been the space we've been in: too small to allow the group to grow. That's why we're looking for larger space.

So we have to rent or enter some kind of shared arrangement. And it has to be on Sunday mornings because of the number of out-of-towners and border-crossers who come to the meeting.

Any suggestions where to look? What kind of organizations to contact?

Where do renting Quakers usually meet?

Thanks for any suggestions. I'm coming up dry here.


At 4:13 PM, Blogger Anna Dunford said...

The churches here are having similar issues with the Inland Revenue with regard their tax status and being able to let out rooms during the week, it appears to be a universal issue.

With regard to where Quakers without their own MHs meet my experience in Britain is that Community Centres are the most common along with other church buildings (which may mean an afternoon or evening MfW). A quick flick through our Book of Meetings here lists various Community Group centres (Hearing Association, Plunkett Society), a community centre, a retreat and a classroom at a Polytechnic. There will probably be community facilities available to rent without them losing any status if their primary purpose is to provide such facilities. Schools might be worth a try, especially the likes of Steiner & Montessori schools.

Find out where things like Yoga classes, Buddhist groups and Alcoholics Annonymous meet - I'm suggesting these as they tend to be the groups that end up meeting at Meeing Houses!

Good luck with your search

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Zach A said...

If the government won't let you pay them to use their space, what if you asked for them to let you use the space without paying for it, and instead offering some kind of useful service? For example, the meeting could clean the building for the nonprofit on Saturdays, or arrange to have it cleaned, which presumably would save the nonprofit some money.

As for an alternative building, my meeting rents space (for money) in a local school -- I think it's a Montessori or similar alternative private school. It isn't a lot of space though.

I have also heard of churches that rent gymnasiums, e.g. high school or college ones.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

I'll ask Friends at Morningside Meeting. Here in the US the tax structure might be different, well, must be differnt, as they used rent from Collumbia U and now from Riverside Church...

We at 15th Street we have our own, old meetinghouse, but we share it with Mennonites who don't have a church, as the Friend who suggests service says, I am not sure we have a cash rental agreement with them, but I will ask, it might be that they just help with the upkeep.

There are meetings that meet in folks houses... but, as a meeting grows...

It really pains me to think of a meeting without a home. Growing up in a meeting, it is such a wonderful sense of home, one that can allways be counted upon...


At 8:44 PM, Blogger Nancy A said...

Thanks for the ideas so far.

Zach - yes, we did offer to do an alternate arrangement. But I think they didn't want to take a chance.

Lorcan - we currently "rent" space (we give a donation) from a university women's centre. But the women's centre use is expanding and taking up all the empty space.

My last meeting had a grand old meeting house. It was truly a wonderful thing.

At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Michael said...


I am frankly puzzled by the thye reaction of the non-profit. I sit on the Board of Directors of a largish, charitable status, nonprofit, and we certainly rent out our surplus space, the money being used for building maintenance and the like. As far as I know, Revenue Canada isn't breathing down our necks. I would suggest maybe consulting with a chartered accountant who might be able to resolve thse issues for everyone's benefit. I will also ask our ED how this works, and pass on her reply to you.

Good luck


At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Michael. We have asked some questions around town and have come to the same conclusion ourselves. There's definitely something to this idea, though how rigorous and to what extent Revenue Canada enforces it is another question.

I think there's more to this story than the organization is telling us.

In the meantime, we are putting together yet another search committee.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nancy my meeting owns a building but we "rent" out space by saying that we need a monthly donation to pay for building costs and we won't kick someone out if they don't pay their donation. that is how we get around it.


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