Paddler’s Co-op needs help to keep its home

Robert Fisher
Staff Reporter

PALMER RAPIDS – The longtime owner of the property used by Paddler’s Co-op is selling and the group is looking to raise funds to buy the property.

Ryan O’Connor, one of the owners of the operation, explained that the group is a whitewater canoe and kayak training centre and campground. “We provide kids camps and whitewater safety and skills training for folks of all ages and abilities.”

The group is member-owned, being a co-operative, and is, what O’Connor described as mission-first rather than profit-first. They began operating in 1997 and are located in part of the Lower Madawaska River Provincial Park.

O’Connor said the relationship with the current owner, who is a co-founder and board member of the co-op, has been working well. “It’s just become time for them to sell and move on,” he said of the sale of the property. The time has come, he explained, for the co-op to, “own its own future.”
They have trained more than 10,000 paddlers over the years and hope to continue to be able to train thousands more in the coming years.

They have a June 1 deadline to agree to purchase the property. Fundraising has been taking place and they have $93,000 currently. Their goal is $250,000. That would give them the down payment. “The absolute bare minimum,” he said, “just to secure financing and secure the property is $150,000.” If they only have the minimum, it will put constraints on cashflow. “It’s workable within the budget but it’s far from ideal.”

One of the reasons the co-op wants to own the property is they don’t know what could happen with a new owner. While they may be able to strike a lease or use agreement initially, that could change in time. He said the rent they would have to pay to a new property owner would likely be much higher also because the property has appreciated in value with time. They have an additional $50,000 in a reserve fund so are close to the minimum $150,000 they need.

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