If a fee levy for Le Frigo Vert (LFV) is approved by students at the next ballot, it will help the non-profit organization sustain its current situation, though it will not solve its problem.
“We’ll be able to continue operating in this space,” said LFV worker Punita Bhardwaj. “But the issue here is that we can’t afford this space.”
LFV is a collectively run food store and caf that offers organic groceries at accessible prices. After QPIRG-Concordia vacated the shared space at 2130 Mackay St. in June, LFV’s rent increased from $700 a month to $2,300 per month. It recently signed a one-year lease at this price, plus 40 per cent taxes and ten per cent administration fees.
At last Wednesday’s council meeting, a motion was passed to include a referendum question in the next student ballot for a fee levy for LFV. Students will get to vote on whether LFV fee should switch from $1.70 per semester to $0.25 per credit, the equivalent of the People’s Potato fee.
“We’re not happy about asking students for more money,” said Bhardwaj. Ideally, LFV would like to move into a free or low-cost space.
Last year, LFV was promised a one time $32,000 grant by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) to help pay for the increased cost of rent. However, LFV has yet to receive the money.
CSU VP Finance Tyler Wordsworth said the delay was caused by bureaucratic procedures and communication difficulties with LFV. “The check should be ready pretty much any day now,” he said.
The emergency grant will allow LFV to afford the rental increase until September 2004. LFV wants the university to help out too.
“If we had free or cheap space, the situation would be rectified,” said Bhardwaj.
On Dec. 4, 2003, CFCF-12’s On Your Side ran a piece about the LFV financial crisis. Concordia’s Director of Communications Dennis Murphy said, “You’re adding a million – a million plus square feet with all these new buildings…is there any way some space could be found there for this organization…I’m not sure what part of that footage has already been dedicated space already, I certainly can bring that to their attention.”
Murphy was unaware if any progress had been made regarding LFV when contacted by The Concordian.
On Your Side reported, “the administration agrees the Frigo provides a service and says it’s willing to help find a solution.”
However, Patricia Posius, director of auxiliary services, said the university never publicly said it would help financially support LFV because LFV has nothing to do with the university.
Bhardwaj said though the majority of LFV employees are not Concordia students, the organization is a student-run initiative. “There was a referendum and students voted to have this project,” she said.
“The majority of our volunteers and shoppers are Concordia students.” She added that the university often uses LFV in its pamphlets to give a good impression of the school.
LFV wants a free or cheap space so that it can use its profits to benefit students, rather then to pay rent.
Bhardwaj said they want to put the money they receive into planning more projects, hiring more students, who often are at Concordia, and provide more educational services.
“There’s a very big misconception on campus that we’re not managing our funds,” said Bhardwaj.
“But our sales are high. The problem is that we can’t be sustainable when rent goes up and we have no increase in funding.”
LFV is circulating a petition, available at 2130 Mackay St., asking the administration to provide the store with an adequate, appropriate, and permanent rent-free storefront space.