February 28th, 2024

CCDA’s remaining assets will form legacy fund

By COLLIN GALLANT on July 3, 2021.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

The assets of the City Centre Development Agency will be used to create a legacy fund for downtown business owners to improve their properties, the group that officially disbanded this week has announced.

That amounts to between $130,000 and $140,000 that will continue to offset the cost of interest-free loans to renovate or make general improvements and improve the area and generate development.

“We’re very, very happy that it will continue,” said former CCDA board chair Jeremy Silver. A final message from the board to stakeholders laments some aspects of ending operations after 37 years, but also recalls events, chili-cookoffs, Easter egg hunts and the Monarch Theatre.

“We would like to thank everyone who kept the Monarch dream alive and look forward to watching her thrive in the future,” the letter states.

Audited financial statements will be delivered to city finance officials this month, it states.

Last month, the City of Medicine Hat announced it would acquire the Monarch Theatre in order to keep it from potentially becoming property of the province once the provincially regulated business improvement area ceased operations.

After a mid-May referendum on the CCDA’s future, the board had about six weeks to wind up operations and liquidate assets.

The theatre was the major concern, and the city’s purchase price of $145,000 in cash and another $60,000 in loan forgiveness.

That money will essentially replace a grant removed from the CCDA budget during a contentious two-year budget debate, which Silver called a valuable program that should have continued.

“It did a lot of good, and when council removed that money it was money taken out of downtown, and this (new fund) will ensure every cent goes back into the downtown,” said Silver.

Earlier this year, city council changed the amount of money it granted to the business development group. The CCDA responded by cutting a long-standing grant program, known as the City Centre Investment Opportunity Program, or CCIOP.

It helped provide interest-free loans to its members in a program offered by local business development agency Community Futures EntreCorp. And now the remainder of assets will be endowed to keep that program in place for an estimated five years, said Silver.

The CCDA is governed by the Municipal Government Act, and was required to wind up business operations, liquidate its assets and extinguish liabilities by June 30.

The Monarch sale presented it a surplus, which could have been apportioned to stakeholders, just as liabilities would have been.

The result is a wash, said Silver, who said the board considered an option to directly refund the money to stakeholders, but that was rejected as too complex and ultimately ineffective.

Silver said a total of about 300 separate business owners have paid into the CCDA levy since the monarch purchase in 2009. They would have to be found, assigned a prorated share, all of which would add administrative costs, and the eventual payout wold be a couple hundred dollars.

“If we had left it to the city, it would have trickled down to nothing, and this ensures every cent of it goes back into downtown,” he told the News.

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