The offer to sell the property to the group was initially made in July 2019, explained Lonnie Kaal, City Manager, with the City during the regular meeting of Yorkton Council.
At the time the Society chose not to take the City up on its offer, said Kaal.
But recently in discussions with the Society it was learned they are moving forward to complete a design for the Interpretive Centre. A design needs to be done so that they can apply for a variety of grants, she said.
“We advised them that since the City owns the property, any corporation or entity owned or controlled by the City is bound by the New West Partnership Trade Agreement such that the project would need to be publically tendered as the cost would exceed $200,000,” detailed the report circulated to Council.
“Further, they would need to comply with the City’s procurement policy and would not have the freedom to hire/contract whoever they want.”
In an effort to allow the Committee independence, we have encouraged them to take ownership of the property, said Kaal, adding the committee has now agreed to move forward and thus we intend to proceed with public notice and complete the transaction that was approved by Council in July 2019.
As part of the agreement a letter of understanding will be developed to detail the responsibilities of the two parties.
For example, currently the City is paying utilities, namely power and water on the site. Instead of a $2,000 annual expense on our own property, a culture/heritage grant could be provided on an annual basis. This has no impact on the budget as this would be a grant instead of an expense going forward, but the amount would be a flat $2,000 regardless of actual utility costs.
In addition, the property would not be taxed for five years, with the potential to extend the exemption, said Kaal.
The City might also provide some up front funding to be paid back by approved donors making donations over a five-year period, said Kaal.
“This volunteer organization has raised over $350,000 and has completed many improvements to the mill and the site. They have put in countless volunteer hours and the City has set aside $300,000 for the Multi-Function Cultural Interpretive Centre project. The transfer of title to them will help with grant applications and fundraising efforts. Further, it provides them with the flexibility to hire local contractors as opposed to following City procurement policies,” detailed the report
In addition to supporting the sale, Council also approved a letter of support for the Society project to help the process of applying for provincial and federal grants.