Following an eviction email, a delegation heard by council, letters of support from members of the public and meetings with staff, Bike Re-Psych is expected to remain in its home behind the Queen Charlotte Youth Centre.
Founder and director Steve Querengesser told the Observer the volunteer bicycle society, which earlier this month was at risk of eviction, will now be able to move toward reopening the long-standing bike shed this summer with a COVID-19 safe work plan in place.
At the regular council meeting on June 15, chief administrative officer Lori Weideman recommended that council allow Bike Re-Psych to reopen at the bike shed subject to conditions.
Weideman’s report detailed how she had provided a verbal, operational update to council on Feb. 19 prior to sending an email to Querengesser on Feb. 24, to notify him that the village would be taking over exclusive use of the bike shed at the youth centre, effective March 23, due to “ongoing issues with challenges between the youth program and the Bike Re-Psych program.”
“These issues had been raised with Bike Re-Psych over the years and a Bike Shed Terms and Conditions of Use document was created to help address some of them. Bike Re-Psych also committed to paying for a sign that would indicate how to access their service, hours of operations and whether it was open or closed. To date this has not been supplied,” her report to council said.
“While the Village still supports the work that Bike Re-Psych does for the community, we had reached a point where the challenges and benefits were difficult to weigh.”
However, Weideman sent the Feb. 24 eviction email to the wrong address and Querengesser did not receive it until April 1, after he contacted her to discuss opening Bike Re-Psych in line with pandemic rules.
Querengesser then pleaded his case at the regular council meeting on May 20, which sparked more than 10 letters of support from members of the public who wanted the bicycle repair services to stay put.
Along with councillor Jesse Embree, Weideman went on to meet with Querengesser on June 9 to discuss options for continuing service at the bike shed.
The resulting conditions for reopening at the bike shed include developing a formal legal agreement for use of the space, with the addition of review periods, conflict resolution and breach of contract conditions.
Other conditions included Bike Re-Psych providing proof of general liability insurance of $1 million with the Village named as an additional insured, ensuring that all volunteers working with youth complete criminal records checks, and providing a sign that indicates where to access the bike shed, the hours of operation and contact information.
Councillor Lisa Pineault seconded a motion to approve the recommendation made by Embree, who said he was glad staff had taken the time to “try and work through the issues.”
“Hopefully we can have a better working relationship between the youth centre staff and Mr. Querengesser moving forward,” he said. “We saw how valued this is by the community. I know I value it myself.”
Querengesser told the Observer Bike Re-Psych would be “happy to comply with the stipulations and really hopes to be able to work with the youth centre management to provide programming for youth.”
“We acknowledge that we should have had a sign up much earlier with hours of operation etc., as well as how to access the services much earlier, and have apologized for the delay in its implementation,” he said, adding that a sign is already in the works thanks to Haida Gwaii Signs and Designs.
He also said Bike Re-Psych is communicating with DIY bicycle repair organizations across North America about how they are gradually reopening and gathering ideas.
“We will be developing and submitting our COVID-19 safe work plan after the youth centre has shared how they will be operating,” he said, adding that they are also considering changes to their hours of operation and are looking for volunteers. “Currently if anyone needs help repairing their bicycle, please contact us through the Facebook page.”
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