Thursday, July 13, 2006

Letter to City Council regarding live theatre component of cultural block for October 18, 2004, meeting

October 5, 2004

His Worship the Mayor
and Members of City Council
City Hall
222 Third Avenue North
Saskatoon, SK S7K 0J5

Dear Mayor Atchison and Members of City Council:

I wish to submit some comments to the Executive Committee for clarification regarding Item A5 of Communications from City Council’s September 20, 2004 meeting. It pertains to the ‘cultural block’ of the City’s South Downtown project and was referred to administration for a report to the committee.

If I recall correctly Persephone Theatre asked Council for a ‘commitment’ to name it as the ‘lead party’ in the development of the cultural block. They would also like to know as soon as possible about the land, its configuration and whether it might be sold or leased to them. I believe they indicated as well that funding would be required from all three levels of government of which approximately $1-million would come from the City.

I feel this situation is somewhat similar to what occurred at City Council on November 17, 2003 and December 8, 2003 when developer Ken Achs and real estate agent Phill Elenko, on behalf of clients, respectively, expressed interest in acquiring the Gathercole Site.

In the December 6, 2003 StarPhoenix, Mayor Don Atchison was quoted as saying,

‘First of all, we can’t just go out and do that, because all our properties are basically for tender,” he said. “The other thing would be, for example, again we would have to go back for a request for proposals.”

Page 39 of The South Downtown Concept Plan 2004 states,

‘Request for Proposals: The City owns the majority of the land comprising the South Downtown. All of this land will be the subject of competitive calls to the private sector. These calls can specify certain requirements for the site.’

Will the City be following the competitive bidding process for selling city-owned land that is outlined in Council Policy C09-033 or, is it contemplating special considerations and setting direct terms and conditions for the sale or lease of South Downtown property to Persephone Theatre instead? If so, why?

With respect to the $1-million in funding that Persephone Theatre requires from the City on page six of the minutes from the February 6, 2004 Meewasin Valley Authority board meeting it is stated that:

‘Mayor Atchison was very firm that the City will not fund cultural uses in the South Downtown.’

The January 16, 2004 StarPhoenix reported that:

‘Atchison confirmed that he’s not interested in spending public money on the Gathercole site, as some have suggested. “For the life of me, I can’t believe we would take federal, provincial or municipal dollars on a site where the private sector has been knocking at the door.”’

Since the Gathercole building is gone is the City now considering reversing its earlier position that no public money would be spent on the Gathercole Site for things other than infrastructure? If so, why and for what and how much?

Thank you, for your time. I look forward to your reply.


Joseph Kuchta
Saskatoon, SK

Cc: Phil Richards, City Manager


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