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Editorial: Support for brick mill obvious for Yorkton Council

Supporting this group complete a hugely positive project is ultimately a good decision wherever Council made it.
The Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society held a sod turning event at the site of the brick mill to signify construction of the mill's Interpretive Centre. The Interpretive Station at the Mill will house a 140-person event centre and an agricultural interpretive centre. Pictured here are YBMHS Board Members, local dignitaries and top contributors to the development. (File Photo)

YORKTON - The City of Yorkton is in the process of loaning up to $240,000 to the Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society to allow it to move forward with completion of the already started interpretive centre addition to the mill property.

To start, this is one of those decisions by Council that should have taken about 37 seconds to approve, although Council did its due diligence having the Society make a presentation on the project and one assumes its plan to repay taxpayers.

A presentation providing updates was recently given to Council which was deemed as satisfactory, and thus direction to prepare the bylaw was formally given at the April 29, 2024 Council meeting.

Of course like many things these days the presentation was carried out in-camera. It must be pointed out that such a presentation does not fall under what was once the standard guidelines for taking something behind closed doors; a legal matter, once dealing with specific personnel, and property matters where an open discussion might influence values.

Having a group wanting help from the city present behind closed doors when the matter was ultimately about whether to offer up taxpayer dollars is certainly worth questioning, especially in light of ‘transparency’ being an election catch-phrase for several who now sit on Council.

At least in this case the secretive discussions around whether the city should lend money to complete the mill project came out of the closed door session on the right track.

According to material circulated at the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday, “in accordance with Sections 151 and 152 of The Cities Act, a Council may only lend money by way of passing a bylaw, and only if it is guaranteed that the money will be used for a purpose that will benefit the city, and that it is loaned to a non-profit organization as defined in Section 125 of the Act.”

Well in the case of the Interpretive Centre it could be the best example of a project benefiting the community providing both heritage preservation aspects and much-needed rental space in the city.

As for the likelihood the money will be paid back the Society has long-showed a tenacity to see the old mill first saved from the wrecker’s ball, then repaired, and now expanded. They are a tireless and dedicated crew, following in the footsteps of other groups using taxpayer dollars up front then paying that money back – YBID and the men’s club at Deer Park coming to mind.

The process might leave voters in the upcoming election with more questions about what Council deems in-camera worthy, but supporting this group complete a hugely positive project is ultimately a good decision wherever Council made it.