District Partnership Agreement

After selling the Cottonwood Apartment building for $334,000 to 680419 BC Ltd., the District is taking the proceeds from the sale of the Cottonwood Apartment building and reinvesting them back in the property. ?Reinvesting the money back in the building has always been the intent,? says Nigel Black, Chief Administration Officer for the District, who points to a story written for Tumbler Ridge News back in November, where he is quoted as saying ?Proceeds of the sale will likely be reinvested into the development through a partnership agreement.?

Mayor Clay Iles says that part of the money was going to have to go back into the building anyway. ?We had to put a new roof on it. Whether we kept it, or whether there was an investor, we had to put a new roof on it.?

A new roof is not spelled out in the agreement, says Black, and the developers can use the money for improving the building however they want to, but the repair of the roof is an obvious necessity.

According to the terms of the agreement, the District will pay 680419 BC Ltd. a total of $330,800 for providing tourist accommodations, $167,000 will be payable upon signing of the agreement and another $163,800 once requirements for building alterations totaling at least $700,000 have been met. The district also plans to sell the adjacent lot valued at $3,200 for a ?nominal fee? of $1. The lot will be used for future development of ?Tourist accommodation and ancillary uses related to the use of the building.?

Paying people for providing tourist accommodations bothers some business people in town. ?I don?t think that taxpayers should compete against their own dollars in business,? says Lorne Gilfillan, owner of the building which houses some of the down town businesses. He says that some local people are meeting together Tuesday night, and doesn?t want to discuss the issue.

Black says that the money being used isn?t taking from taxpayer funds. ?Sure, you can make that sort of argument, but you could also argue that the money came from Teck, because they?re the ones who gave us the building in the first place. The idea is to utilize this gifted asset to encourage tourism and tax base growth.?

Local resident Brian Sipe has probably been to more council meetings than many of the councilors. He says the biggest issue is that it appears that the deal is being rushed through. ?The public perception component of this could have been handled better by this municipal government.?

The details of the deal were made public at the Council meeting, Monday, March 1. The final reading of the bylaw was scheduled to take place at a special public meeting of council on March 11, but had to be postponed (see cover story).

But is council trying to railroad the deal through? No, says Black. The reason for the haste is that the process is running behind schedule. ?We hoped to have this done sometime in February. We?re running late and this is why the final reading was bumped ahead by five days.?

Mayor Iles agrees that there is a need for speed. ?We could have studied it to death, till nothing got done, or we could have taken the bull by the horns. It wasn?t done in an underhanded way. But we?re not going to delay any longer. We need the accommodations.? Iles points out that the developer is on a timeline, too, and the District needs to get this passed.