A decision on the future of the downtown fire hall has been tabled for at least a month. Grain Bin Brewery and Equity Rentals both attended Tuesday’s Infrastructure and Enforcement Services Committee meeting to make the case for their projects to the committee. The committee in the end felt they needed more information on the projects and the assessment process before they could move ahead.
Grain Bin Brewery proposed using the space to expand their current output, host tastings and also to act as a community hub. Dan Goff the owner of Equity Rentals proposed a three floor office tower that would include a space for a restaurant and coffee shop as well.
The initial proposals were scored on a criteria that was outlined by the former city council and both groups anticipated a decision would have been made already, Goff says the further delay was unexpected. Goff, Mayor Given and Dalen Landis with Grain Bin Brewery all talked about the fact that the extended timeline has been a challenge. Landis says it has meant dealing with two different councils.
“This council is trying to remain true to some of the intentions of the past council. If property tax and assessed value of a property was something that was important to the last council, I know that this current council wants to try to honour things that were kind of promised in the past while still trying to do whatever they can to realize their dreams for the city.”
Mayor given echoed that thought saying some of the new council weren’t around for the initial conversations about the project, including the reason the city wanted to unload the asset in the first place.
“This issue really came forward because administration brought forward a proposal that there were improvements needed to the building to the magnitude of around $1 million. One of the first questions the last council asked was, ‘Well, hold on. This is an old building. Is it in our best interest to spend $1 million on an old building. What else could be done?'”
The idea of collaboration was floated by city administration but both groups seem skeptical about the idea. Part of the meeting was also spent in-camera, Given says they need to understand the implications of what other alternatives they may consider.
“In a typical process where the city is looking to purchase something there is fairly well defined purchasing law and established practices around that. The city is subject to some of the trade agreements that the province of Alberta has signed and Canada has signed and so we have to make sure that whatever we’re doing is within the spirit and the letter of the law of those agreements.”
Should the city opt to cancel the RFP it could not be re-opened for at least a year. Both Equity Rentals and Grain Bin Brewery say they will assess the situation and decide their next steps after they hear more from the city.