It appeared to many that under operator Chris Mathieson, the Grist Mill had finally turned the corner towards financial self sufficiency.
However, regional politicians were dismayed to find the historic site’s future once again appears to be uncertain.
Heritage Programs and Services Manager Richard Linzey presented a number of potential options the province is in the process of contemplating to regional district committee members last week, none of which Similkameen directors consider palatable.
Mathieson seemed to be well on his way this summer to finding that elusive formula that would allow the province to achieve its goals for the Grist Mill – financial sustainability.
That was the goal expressed through a 2007 business case study and a 2011 workshop involving the local community.
However, financial stability doesn’t happen overnight, (nor was is projected to) and less than a year into Mathieson’s tenure, the province appears to be accelerating its desire to divest itself of its local heritage site, at any cost – in spite of hundreds of thousands of dollars spent funding the mill over the past decade, with no defined performance expectations through that period.
Money is tight in provincial coffers – we get that. We understand the need to get the province’s books in order.
But that priority should not allow the province to relinquish its responsibilty to heritage sites in the province, most of which are in places (like the Similkameen) that need the historical protection the province can offer as well as the tourism aspect that locations like the Grist Mill bring to a region.
Mathieson has indicated that he would like to be here for the long term – that he has a vision for the future of the mill and the energy to make it happen.All he needs is the not unreasonable commitment – of public funding in the short term – that previous consultation has indicated as necessary for a business model at the mill to succeed.