Walker House society in loan negotiations with municipality

Society needs to lower payments in order to keep operating

By Barb McKay


The Paddy Walker Heritage Society needs to extend its loan repayment deadline to the municipality in order to keep the Walker House doors open, according to heritage society volunteers.


The Paddy Walker Heritage Society was granted a loan of $100,000 by the Municipality of Kincardine in 2007 to restore Kincardine’s oldest standing building following a devastating fire that nearly destroyed the building in 1995. The agreement stated that the heritage society would make annual payments of $5,000 and a lump sum payment of $25,000 in 2022 to repay the loan.


Society board member Graham Mahood and president Bob Bullen told council last Wednesday that Paddy Walker Heritage Society is just barely able to cover its regular expenses and the society does not receive enough funding and donations to cover the current loan amount. The society board asked council to consider lowering its annual payment to $1,000 in order to run summer exhibits and events and serve the public.


“We’re not asking for forgiveness of the loan, we’re asking for a lower payment,” said Mahood.


Mayor Larry Kraemer said the problem with lowering the annual payment to $1,000 is that it would take another 90 years to pay it off. He suggested lowering the payment to $2,500 or $3,000 per year so that it would be paid off in 30 years.


“We want to help the Paddy Walker House as best we can,” he said.


“We’ve be very appreciative of that,” said Bullen.


Bullen said the Paddy Walker Heritage Society receives an annual grant of $1,500 or $2,000 each year from Enbridge, along with government funding to cover the cost of hiring summer students, but hasn’t been able to receive any significant funding in the past couple of years. The society used be able to hire staff to help operate the Walker House, but now it is run strictly by volunteers.


“Undoubtedly, the Paddy Walker House is an icon in our community and we appreciate the work you’ve done to maintain it,” said councillor Ken Craig.


He suggested that municipal staff work with the society to renegotiate the agreement. The society’s next annual payment is due at the end of this month, but council agreed to put a hold on the payment until negotiations are complete.

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