Chris Mathieson is one step closer to securing a contract to operate the Grist Mill and Gardens for a decade long contract.
Mathieson will be ‘staking his claim’ on the property on Upper Bench in a process required when dealing with Crown Land.
“This is one of the last steps. I’m publicly declaring the intention to lease the property from the province. People will see newspaper ads and I will literally be staking a claim,” he said.
Mathieson recently formed a Community Contribution Company (C3) called Grist Mill CCC Corp. So he could formally apply for a lease for community facility purposes at the Crown Land site.
Mathieson explained C3 companies are relatively new. The company is for-profit but legally has to benefit and report to the community.
“The big thing is the company is accountable to the community and really needs to benefit the community,” he said. “For example I can’t take the assets at the Grist Mill. If someone donates a tractor to the site I can’t just just say, ‘Sell it. I’m going to take the money and leave.’ We pass on the assets and if the site closes the bulk of the assets go to a charity in the community or other organization. It protects the community.”
Mathieson is hopeful he will finally be able to secure the tenure after having done short contracts of one or two years in the recent past.
For the past few years Mathieson has received notice that he can continue running the site just months before the tourism season opens making it difficult to plan events or pull in tourists using unique ideas.
He’s really hoping to connect with a bus touring company and bring tours to the site.
“We’re looking forward to really bringing back the parts of the site that used to do really well. We want to get back to heritage seed research, making flour, being a top-notch education facility and hosting great concerts,” he said.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) will be accepting comments on Mathieson’s application until June 26.
The comment period is for people who think they have a claim to the site for any reason rather than an avenue for letters of support.
Visit http://arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting/index.jsp for more information.