Province open to offers for Grist Mill operations

Province extends deadline to operate Keremeos heritage site

Jim Millar shows off a lovingly restored vintage tractor in front of the main water wheel at the Keremeos Grist Mill.

Jim Millar shows off a lovingly restored vintage tractor in front of the main water wheel at the Keremeos Grist Mill.

If you were thinking it would be nice to manage the Keremeos Grist Mill, the province has extended the deadline by another two weeks.

The opportunity to submit expressions of interest, which was to have ended on Oct. 30, has been extended to Nov. 13. The agreement with Jim and Brenda Millar, who have managed the historic site since 2009, ends on March 31, just as the 2013 tourist season will be ramping up. Their original contract, for one year with two renewals, was later extended by a third renewal.

Dave Cursons of the Grist Mill Foundation said he knows of expressions of interest from two local groups, both of which he is trying to be supportive of. But more may have been received by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, which oversees the province’s historic and heritage sites.

“Those are the ones I know of, and it could be that the existing contractor, who doesn’t finish up until the end of March next year, may apply again,” said Cursons. Millar said he submitted an expression of interest prior to the original deadline.

“We don’t get any preferential treatment, it’s just that I know a lot of the things they are asking about,” said Millar. “So I know how to answer them, more than the average person just trying to figure things out would.”

The Grist Mill is one of 23 heritage properties owned by the province, and is currently operated as a historic site museum by the Millars. But according to a press release from the ministry, proposals may include, but are not limited to, the site’s current function as an outdoor museum.

“The Heritage Branch will consider new uses for the site as long as they consider the site’s heritage values. This process will allow ministry staff to review innovative concepts that would increase financial viability and self-sufficiency of the Grist Mill site,” reads the government release.

Millar thinks the ministry is still trying to reach a goal of the province’s 11 heritage sites being self supporting.

“I’m not aware of very many heritage or museums that are financially self-sufficient with no government funding,” said Millar, adding that he would like to see these sites be free to the public, but doesn’t have a solution to a lack of government tax dollars.

“I’ve said in the past, that anybody in their right business mind wouldn’t take it on, but anyone that goes and looks at the place, they fall in love with it and they lose their common sense,” said Millar.

Opened in 1877, the mill and store served the needs of local ranchers, First Nations, miners and travellers on the historic Dewdney Trail. The 6.9-hectare (17-acre) site includes organic gardens, three historic buildings, a modern building currently used as a visitor centre, as well as some bare land. The site also has an heirloom apple orchard and a small plot of heritage wheat growing on the upper fields.

“It’s a beautiful place and it should be cherished,” said Cursons. “And the principal artifact, that old 1877 flour mill, is a terrific example of late Victorian technology, which is very much a precursor to our own model.”

“It’s the only one in B.C., and I think it is the only one in Western Canada, from Ontario west,” said Millar.

Expressions of interest are due at the ministry’s Heritage Branch before 2 p.m. on Nov. 13. Cursons hopes that the ministry will announce a successful proposal before Christmas.

“At a tourist attraction like the Grist Mill heritage site, you’ve got to get on board with marketing. January is late,” he said. “In the past, these contracts have not been issued until the spring, and that means that marketing has been affected, badly affected,  by the late start.”

Cursons is also concerned that proponents may not have access to a consultant’s report done on the heritage site after visiting the Similkameen community earlier this year.

“We had a fairly good turnout when they came out in the middle of June,” he said. “And we believe that report has been delivered to B.C. Heritage. That would be what do the local people want to see here, what would success look like, what are the problems as they see it.”

 

Copies of the Requests for Expressions of Interest package are available on the B.C. Bid website at: www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The proposed Skaha Lake Road housing project will be modelled after the Burdock House on Winnipeg St., said BC Housing.
BC Housing panel peppered with questions about Skaha housing project

Virtual meeting involved questions about crime, level of supports, timelines

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

Landmark Cinemas Penticton was forced to close down when the provincial government ordered all theatres to close when new COVID-19 restrictions were brought in Nov. 19, 2020. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Despite ‘devastating’ losses the show will eventually go on at Penticton theatre

Landmark Cinemas has been offering movie popcorn since having to close in November

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

This is rendering of what the playground of the new provincially funded child care centre could look like on Edmonton Ave.
Public hearing for childcare centre rezoning Feb. 1

The Edmonton Ave. facility would add 116 more childcare spots

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Couple living at Summerland resort facing increases

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

Police are seeking further witnesses after an elderly woman who was struck by a vehicle in Salmon Arm succumbed to her injuries. (File Photo)
Salmon Arm pedestrian dies after being hit by truck along Highway 1

Collision took place on Jan. 15 in downtown Salmon Arm, police looking for witnesses

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Moose chases two people near North Okanagan school

Conservation and dog control attending to the situation

The sale of the Kirschner Mountain Development for $22M marks the largest in Realtor history, in the Okanagan. (Contributed)
Kelowna mountain development sold for $22M

The sale of the 640-acre Kirschner Mountain development has made the history books

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

Most Read