The province held a workshop at the Grist Mill last week to gather local opinions and ideas in a search for new uses and new ways for the historic venue to generate cash.
The workshop was probably not as well attended as it might have been, given that there wasn’t a great deal of prior notice given to the general public beforehand.
The province appeared to be searching for a “magic bullet” – a new idea – or an epiphany of some sort – that will generate new revenue for the mill.
Provincial representative Judith Cook admitted that the province realizes that it is unlikely that the province’s 11 heritage sites could be self funding, but they are hoping to find a “new business model” that will bring additional revenue to the properties.
A $20,000 study is currently underway to better identify potential new ways to run the Grist Mill, and some additional funding has been injected into the Grist Mill budget to look after some maintenance issues at the site.
While it is encouraging to see the province finally taking an interest in the site, after 10 years of weak policy, erratic funding and shifting of heritage responsibilities from one provincial department to another, the number one problem – reliable funding – remains.
The Grist Mill was a much busier place around the turn of the century (2000) when funding was at more adequate levels. The uncertainty created by the last ten years of neglect has probably been one of the single biggest factors in the mill’s current inability to generate reasonable income – and without a return to committed funding by the province, we feel there will be little salvation gleaned from a $20,000 consultant’s study.