Wednesday November 26, 2014

EDITORIAL - Time for municipal mill money?


There is always a question around what the actual responsibility of municipal government is.

Some things, such as providing protective services, and maintaining infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines is pretty-well understood.

When our City Council chose to invest in a new water treatment plant, a new fire hall, or run-off water retention ponds, the money spent clearly fits with what is expected and required of a municipality.

But as one moves through the list of things the City of Yorkton invests our tax dollars in it is a bit more difficult to define the lines.

And maybe that is a good thing.

A municipal government should have the flexibility to meet local needs as best as possible.

In the past Yorkton Council has made it quite clear, as an example, that funding of health care is not the responsibility of the local municipality. Past Councillors have repeatedly stated health funding is within the purview of provincial and federal governments.

But when a seniors’ health facility required local money Council was quick to set up a levy to help raise the local dollars needed.

There is little doubt the City won’t be there taking part in ensuring a new hospital is built, when the province finally gives that project the go ahead.

Municipal government is also not responsible for financing education, but again Yorkton Council played a key, lead role in providing land for the new Parkland College Trades and Technology Centre. The land for the building was a big step in showing the province there was local support for the Centre.

And in terms of investment it is one which will have long term benefits for our community, and as such was a wise decision by Council.

We have also seen the City, through tax incentives, put in place programs to help restore the heritage facades in the downtown core. It was a small step in preserving an element of our community’s history.

Which brings us to the old brick mill in the city.

It has been in City hands for some years now, sitting in limbo somewhere between the dreams of a few dedicated citizens working to restore it, and the wrecker’s ball which would turn the building into a pile of crumbled bricks.

Within our city there is little which connects us to our past. We have no museum, and many heritage buildings have already been lost.

The brick mill is one which remains. Years of neglect have not treated the building well, but there remains potential.

The question that must then follow is whether the City of Yorkton should be investing in at least its basic restoration and future maintenance?

Such a project may not be the designated responsibility of the municipality, but it may well be a project Council should look at more closely.

History is all too easily lost, and the old mill offers a chance to hold on to a piece of this city from its earliest days. That would seem to be an investment Council might want to make in memory of our founders, and to the benefit of generations yet to come.



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