The chair of the Arts and Heritage Foundation says his organization should have consulted with the St. Albert Community League before releasing plans that show the building as part of a larger visual arts centre redevelopment.
"I think we screwed up," chair Alan Murdock said Friday. "We should have talked to them. I'll do a Ralph Klein and admit I screwed up."
The concession comes almost two weeks after the AHF presented its concept for the St. Albert Visual Arts Centre at the site of Profiles Public Art Gallery and the community hall.
Architectural drawings show Profiles extending into the lot behind the building, wrapping around the 70-year-old community hall. An 18-floor tower would anchor the structure. The St. Albert Community Hall would become the children's gallery and would be connected to Profiles.
Murdock said discussions about the possibility of using the community hall began two years ago, when he spoke to Mayor Nolan Crouse about the potential of the city acquiring the building from the St. Albert Community League.
While he concedes there were no formal discussions about AHF's plans with the community league, Murdock insists the league has been in talks about the potential of selling the hall to the city.
"We haven't run behind anyone's back," he said. "They knew we were interested."
City manager Bill Holtby was part of discussions with former members of the St. Albert Community League board around two years ago. At the time, Holtby said the league at that time had roughly a dozen members who managed the space, used by several clubs, and had serious concerns about its financial sustainability.
According to an April 1, 2009 letter from the mayor's office, the city agreed to do a structural review of the building to assess its condition. Chris Jardine, general manager of community and protective services, said he made arrangements with the league to gain access to the building for the review.
"The thinking at the time was, if this is a facility we are going to take over, was it a facility that was about to fall down," Jardine said.
The review found few problems aside from roof repairs that will be needed in the next 10 years and some foundation work.
Vic Charlton, president of the community league's board, said membership and finances have changed for the better in the two years since that meeting with the city. The group has around 70 members and is close to meeting fundraising targets for the roof repairs.
The community league has no plans to sell their building.
"It is an unequivocal no," said Charlton. "We are expanding and are in use every day of the week. Our viability is no longer in question."
Although he appreciates Murdock's admission, Charlton said he wished the AHF had formally presented its plan to the community league board instead of presenting it to council first. The community league would extend the same courtesy if they were ever thinking of expansion, he said.