Keremeos Grist Mill signs 10-year lease with province - InfoNews

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Keremeos Grist Mill signs 10-year lease with province

FILE PHOTO - The Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens plays host to the 2016 Similkameen Barbeque King-Queen event. The operator of the mill has signed a 10 year lease agreement with the province to operate and manage the site.
April 11, 2017 - 2:45 PM

KEREMEOS - After several years of uncertainty, The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos has a long term lease with the province.

Grist Mill operator and manager Chris Mathieson says they have signed a 10-year lease.

“We’re thrilled to have the security that comes with holding a long-term tenure on the site,” Mathieson says.

Having a longer term to operate the mill means he can also promote and pitch the site to bus tour operators beyond this year as he works to rebuild that once important part of the Grist Mill operation.

The Grist Mill will now be operated under a relatively new classification of business, known as a Community Contribution Corporation.

“We picked the Community Contribution Corporation as a way to fit our philosophical and business objectives the best,” Mathieson says.

He says the mill was in tricky territory; being a for-profit business but still under the requirements of a lease and the law to do certain things.

“We’re kind of straddling between for-profit and non-profit, but technically, we’re a for-profit,” Mathieson says.

He says the operation will receive some additional government funding over the next couple of years before being left on their own.

A Community Contribution Corporation is a for-profit company that is restricted by law in many of the same ways as a non-profit or charity while providing a benefit to the community. The classification is very specific and intended for “social enterprise.”

The Grist Mill is the 35th company to receive this form of incorporation in B.C. and the first with tenure on Crown land.

Under the terms of the classification, the Grist Mill must provide a community purposes statement, describing how the enterprise will benefit the community. There are also strict rules regarding how profits and assets are used, with a maximum of 40 per cent of profits returning to the mill’s community purposes.

Three directors are appointed instead of one to help ensure the community purposes of the enterprise are being fulfilled.

The Grist Mill and Gardens opens for the season on Friday, May 5. Mathieson says a Similkameen Heritage Festival takes place at the end of May, and a full lineup of concerts are scheduled for the summer.

“I think we’re going to have a really busy summer. With Canada 150 promoting a number of activities across the country, I think a lot of people are going to stay home this year."

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