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Council approves purchase of Synergy Credit Union building

The first stage of the “Community Hub” project has been given the green light by city council.

The project is aimed at the eventual rejuvenation of the downtown core in the Border City, and has four distinct phases, the first of which was the purchase of the former Synergy Credit Union building in the downtown for the cost of $4,716,000.00. This purchase will now go ahead, after discussion of the topic by council on Monday afternoon.

The discussion started with a short presentation by Don Stang, the Director of Community Services for the municipal government. In his presentation, Stang re-iterated the points presented in a report attached to the council agenda for Monday’s meeting, which outlined the reasons why the municipal government should put funds towards the project.  The total cost of the Hub project is around $15,200,624 when the estimated phase costs are added together.

The land acquisition is the first step of the Hub project, with the second and third consisting of the design and move-in to the new space, with the fourth and final being the design and construction of a central urban square.

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After Stang finished, council questioned him on the matter. Councillor Ken Baker was vocal about the cost of the project, and expressed concerns about the possible impact of the three-year revitalization effort impacting other infrastructure concerns in the city, such as highways and the wastewater treatment plant.

“I’m always the guy asking that question, and I’m not going to stop asking that question,” said Baker, in the chamber.

The response from the city administration was that any grant funding for the Hub project will be coming down “different pipes” than funds meant for city infrastructure.

Further discussion around the council chamber indicated support from members for the purchase of the Synergy building, which could act as a strategic asset if the Hub project does not proceed. Council also expressed concern about possibly missing the opportunity of acquiring the building. After the discussion, the vote on the matter passed without a single opposing hand raised.

Reached after the conclusion of the meeting, Councillor Larry Sauer said the purchase of the Synergy building was done at the right time, and that it marked the first steps of the Hub project getting underway. However, he did not discuss any details about a timeline on the next stages of the project.

Councillor Linnea Goodhand expressed a desire to fast forward 10 years to see what the project has accomplished, and said she thinks it will be fabulous.

“I think it (the non-purchase) would have been a big missed opportunity,” said Goodhand.

According to Goodhand, council was first informed of the Hub proposal in an information session two weeks ago, and word of the sale of the Synergy building had been circulating through the “normal grapevine”.

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In the documents attached to the agenda, the city administration outlines concerns about the purchase not going through.

“Since very little of the citys recent growth has occurred within Central Lloydminster, it is safe to say that not building a catalyst project, and/or actively encouraging redevelopment in Central Lloydminster, would entail the continuation of the current situation,” reads the text of the report.

“Additionally, with the recent departure of the Synergy Credit Union, a major anchor in the CBD (Central Business District), the current vitality of the CBD is significantly diminished. We fear that doing nothing would result in the gradual and long-term marginalization of the CBD, to the point where it becomes economically and culturally irrelevant, and whose negative effects would begin to spread into adjacent areas.”

The timeline on when the purchase will go through and when the Hub project will begin being worked on has yet to be determined.

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