HOPE City Church will not be going anywhere for the foreseeable future after Canning City Council voted to give their Queens Park home at least one more year’s grace.
As well, the council voted narrowly in favour of writing off over $26,000 debt and slashing the church’s rent by 90 per cent to $6,461 per annum, backdated to November 2018.
A 12-month lease was not what city officers had recommended – they favoured a continuation of the month-to-month hold-over arrangement with the church.
The council instead supported Councillor Graham Barry’s push for the 12-month lease, with options of 12 months up to and no more than three years and a six-month written notice period for termination.
Hope City Church had reached out to request a significant rate reduction in January after discovering similar community groups were paying much less rent.
Their long-term lease at the former library in Railway Parade expired in June 2018.
Given the City’s preference to seek expressions of interest from developers for the land, a council report had recommended they continue the existing holding over arrangements.
But Cr Barry said the holding-over arrangements did not provide the church any long-term security.
Cr Jesse Jacobs argued passionately in support of Cr Barry’s amendment and said it would benefit both parties, granting the church some stability while ensuring the City could adequately gauge the best price for the land.
However, community and commercial director Garry Adams warned there could be unknown risks associated with the change to entering a new 12-month lease with the church.
He said the City may potentially incur additional costs for maintenance of the church to allow them to inhabit the building and he was unsure of how the market would see the building with a tenant in place.
Cr Patrick Hall unsuccessfully tried to ensure the $26,000 debt was still paid to the city.
He said council had been presented with no solid evidence the church were in dire financial straits and unable to pay their rent, and ratepayers should not be saddled with the burden.
His amendment was voted down 6-5, before Cr Barry’s amendment and the motion itself were both passed 6-5.