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City cancels plans to sell old fire hall

The Grain Bin Brewery and Equity Rentals were both left disappointed Monday when a special city council meeting pulled the plug on the sale of the downtown fire hall. The building currently houses the Community Social Development (CSD) department and serves as storage space for the Parks Department, Technical Search & Rescue and the RCMP.

The cost associated with relocating those services as well as a nearly $400,000 gap between the appraised property value and the bid led to a vote of five to three in favour of cancelling the request for proposal. Mayor Bill Given was in support of moving forward with the RFP and awarding the property to Equity Rentals. He says the city takes cancelling an RFP very seriously.

“When we cancel an RFP we have to do that with good reason because we want to ensure that in the future the private sector, whether it’s for work or for disposal of a property like this, that they feel confident submitting bids.”

Owner of Equity Rentals Daniel Goff was “frustrated” with the decision saying he wasn’t sure of the city’s process going forward if they planned to put out an RFP again in the future.

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“They don’t follow it that strictly anyway, so I think that’s kind of irrelevant, what their process is.”

Goff mentioned the city’s requests for more information created additional costs along the way.

“I feel they should have figured that out before they started requesting more information. If they needed more time to figure that out that would have made more sense.”

That was something Grain Bin Brewery’s Dalen Landis also mentioned saying it may have impacted the viability of their business.

“It’s been over six months now that we had been waiting on a decision and for them to make no decision and decide to just retract their offer I think is… I think us and I’m sure Dan [Goff] also was saying he was disappointed too. I think everybody is a little bit shocked and bummed.”

Mayor Given acknowledged the costs businesses can bear when responding to these requests from the city.

“It could be an opportunity cost or it could be simply in the cost of their time to develop their submission. So that’s where the city has to very carefully consider and have good reason not to move forward with an RFP and in this case council decided not to move forward.”

He says while it is a good home for city services currently there he feels some of the space is under utilized.

“Considering downtown is the retail heart of our community where we are looking for lots of activity and those bays by and large are being used as storage or garage space. But i think that the majority of council felt that that continued to be appropriate and ultimately that the best interest of the city was to keep the property.”

Given was a fan of both the proposals put forward saying he knows the visions excited the community. He hopes this will lead to broader discussions abut what the community is hoping to see in that area. Equity Rentals’ proposal included a three floor office building with commercial and restaurant space. The brewery was looking to build a storefront and brewing space with a tasting room.

Grain Bin has been operating out of the county for the past six months which Landis says will likely continue to be their home base. Neither party has plans to pursue any legal action in regards to the city cancelling the RFP.

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