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Council supports Yorkton Brick Mill loan request

Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society is happy to be moving forward with the construction phase of their new Interpretive Cultural Centre located next to the Flour Mill. (Sierra D'Souza Butts/CTV News) Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society is happy to be moving forward with the construction phase of their new Interpretive Cultural Centre located next to the Flour Mill. (Sierra D'Souza Butts/CTV News)
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Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society has gotten a little closer to finishing its new project thanks to the support of city council.

On Monday, Yorkton’s City Council passed its second and third reading of approving Bylaw No. 8 – which permits the Brick Mill Heritage Society to borrow $240,000 on an interest free basis from the city and be repaid over the course of four years.

“We have five major sponsors and three of them are paying installments of $20,000 over five years,” explained Larry Pearen, chair of Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society.

“As we were discussing that construction needs to continue, and we need the funds now not in five years, by doing the interim loan it helps us keep the process going.”

The funds will be used to help build the new Interpretive Cultural Centre at the mill which is currently under construction. The new building will recognize local family farms in the southeast region, as well as provide a space for tours on the history behind agriculture settlements in Saskatchewan that go as far back as 1898.

The centre will also be available to the public for private meetings and local events.

“In the original days the mill was the centre of our community because everyone hauled grain into the mill to get flour, you didn’t buy flour from a store,” Pearen told CTV News, referring to the impact the mill had in the community.

“We’re trying to recreate that atmosphere of people gathering around the mill. It’s going to be an interpretive station telling us about Saskatchewan, about agriculture, about family farms, and milling in the province.”

During council’s meeting, no members of the public were present opposing the request.

However, questions were raised by council members asking if the loan will impact the city’s budget in the next few years.

“When this commitment was made it was interest free, but we had money in reserves to take care of it now we don’t. Can you go over the interest portion and how much it’s going to cost the city and our residents over these four years?” asked councillor Darcy Zaharia.

In response, Director of Finance Ashely Stradeski told council that it could cost the city $10,000 or $15,000 a year in borrowing costs. However, because the city plans to borrow funds for major ongoing projects, it should not impact the city financially.

“It’s been seven or eight years since we’re borrowed anything, our debt is at an all time low which is about to change,” Stradeski said.

“The interest rates, the Bank of Canada did lower their rates, and we are starting to see the interest rates drop, so I’m optimistic cautiously that banks will price in the future, that interest rate drops are expected.”

Councillor Randy Goulden asked for clarification on what the city is borrowing money for so that residents are aware.

“We do have one of our larger infrastructure projects ever which is the York Road re-construction, all the drainage work and underground utilities that go along with that,” Stradeski explained during the meeting.

“That’s a massive project with an estimated [price of] $25 million or so. Seeing we’re taking a project of that size we are going to be borrowing for that project this year.”

Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society plans to complete their new building by August 2025.

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