Grist Mill future still in question

Grist Mill Foundation directors report the government remains focused on offloading the historic Keremeos site, after a meeting with their local MLA - photo courtesy B.C. Heritage Branch.
Grist Mill Foundation directors report the government remains focused on offloading the historic Keremeos site, after a meeting with their local MLA
— image credit: photo courtesy B.C. Heritage Branch.

The B.C. Heritage branch is still looking for proposals to take operation of the Keremeos Grist Mill off the province’s books.

Grist Mill Foundation directors Marilyn Bergen and Dave Cursons met with Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson in Keremeos on Thursday to discuss the province’s request for proposals for the future use of the historic Grist Mill and lands that will reduce reliance on public funds.

According to a press release issued by the foundation after the meeting, Larson and the foundation directors agree that the site is best operated as a heritage business concern as it is with the present operator, Chris Mathieson, but there is no change in the province's current move to lease out the provincial historic site.  The lands are available for bid  through to September 26th, 2014.

A successful bid on the Grist Mill request for proposals from B.C. Heritage will need to propose eliminating or decreasing the amount of government funding over time. This latest attempt to  gather offers for the historic site comes after the province offered to turn the mill and lands over to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen last November.

At the time, Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said he’d prefer to see the B.C. government retain responsibility for the site.

“I think to ask us to take it over… is just downloading responsibilities and I wouldn’t be in favour of this,” said Bauer, also an RDOS director.

“The present management is very successful. Community support is there, business support is there. The only thing that’s not there is the long-term commitment from the branch.”

The foundation goes on to say that whatever the outcome of the bidding process, they expect to see the provincial government to see to the business of operating their designated provincial historic site at the Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens. However, they are considering expanding the foundation’s role.

“The Grist Mill Foundation, formed in 2010 and lately seeking charitable status with the Charities Directorate of Customs and Revenue Canada will consider adding to their present goals that of growing into a capable business manager for the heritage property,” reads the release.

The directors of the Grist Mill Foundation meet next on September 18.


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