Editorial - Right decision reached on brick mill

It took a while, but credit Yorkton Council for finally getting to the right decision in terms of agreeing to provide $300,000 toward further improvements and expansion plans for a Brick Mill Interpretive Centre in the city.

The estimated costs of the entire project are $1,300,000 and the request from the Brick Mill Committee, made back in July was for the City to commit $300,000 to show support.

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As an integral part of the City’s history, especially as it pertains to agriculture, it seemed logical that the City provide some dollars. It was obviously hoped that with the municipality on board other funders would be more inclined to jump on board.

The Brick Mill Committee would continue to apply for grants and do fundraising to come up with the rest.

The July request was referred to 2020 Budget deliberations.

And, that appeared to be the end of the road for the project as the budget, formally approved at the regular meeting of Council Monday, had left the mill request on the cutting room floor.

But the Brick Mill Committee is a savvy group with long ties to the City. It went into lobby mode, talking to Councillors, and getting them to reconsider, which they did Monday.

It wasn’t a clear cut yes to the project to start, although in the end it would be a unanimous decision to commit the dollars.

Considering the caveats put on the dollars there was really no other decision Council could have made.

The City dollars only kick in when the committee has raised matching dollars. That is not an unusual aspect of City funding, and it makes good sense since it really means the City dollars generate $600,000 toward the total.

In this case the committee also needs to show a plan, one Council approves, that clearly details long term financial viability for the interpretive centre. In other words Council wants to be sure future operating costs are able to be met.

It’s a reasonable request, although Council would be hard pressed to show where sport, culture and recreation facilities – the indoor pool, public library, Godfrey Dean Gallery, Deer Park golf course -- in the City generate 100 per cent of their operating costs.

Even the Western Development Museum in the city, while not owned by the City is subsidized by it. The City leases the WDM the land where it is situated at a cost of $1 per year. They have done so for 30 years, and as it happens agreed to renew that lease Monday for another 10-years.

So the requirements to receive the $300,000 from the City do come across as more restrictive than is the norm.

But, in the end the money is now pledged, and that is the key thing here. The brick mill has always been worth saving, and an interpretive centre offers much potential in terms of history preservation and future tourism in the city.

It is a good gift to the community given the time of year.

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