I don't often speak about my little successes along the way but this is a story that I want to tell. One of the very first things that I accomplished after I was elected in 2009 was to meet with local associations. One group I met with was the local farmers and ranchers. We discussed their issues and concerns. I wanted to find out what was important to them. We had a great discussion about a number of issues relating to the agriculture and ranching industries. The meeting concluded with a shared number one concern regarding the grain elevator. Cargill was planning to knock down and haul away the concrete grain elevator, leaving in its place a very old wooden elevator that only had about five years of life left in it. This was the first I had heard of removing
the elevator even though it had been an ongoing issue for about two years. The agricultural community wasn’t having any success in their discussions with Cargill or BC Rail to make a deal to keep the elevator.
In July 2009, I confirmed with Cargill that they were indeed going to demolish the modern concrete grain elevator, leaving only the 60 year old wooden elevator. I immediately proceeded with attempting to find a solution to the problem. I had to be quick as Cargill was planning on demolishing the elevator in the very near future. There were a number of things I needed to accomplish to save the elevator. First, I had to convince Cargill to put their demolition process on hold. Second, I had to find out how to broker a deal between Cargill and BC Rail’s land agents. Finally, I had to find a way to finance the project.
I spoke to Northern Development Initiative (NDI) and got NDI on board to finance the project. I had hoped for a grant but was at least able to secure a loan. With financing secure, I spoke to the Vice President of Operations for Cargill. I found out that Cargill was unable to complete the deal with BC Rail land agents to keep the elevator. That was the reason they were prepared to spend the millions to knock the elevator down and haul it away.
I asked the selling price for their elevator for our local agriculture community, if I could make a deal happen. Cargill was willing to sell the elevator to the community for 50,000.00 – 100,000.00 dollars. Next, I contacted BC Rail and told them what I was trying to save the elevator. BC Rail quickly came on board and reduced the value of the asking price of their land from nearly a million dollars almost half of that.
Finally, I had all of the pieces together and it was just a matter of the getting the North Pine Farmers Institute to sit down with the real estate agent. They put together the offer based on the agreements I had put in place. Today, we have a fantastic grain elevator that will serve our community’s needs for many years to come.
As I look back on the elevator success story, I am very proud of my first accomplishment as the newly elected MLA for the region.