An agreement to sell the Margo Fournier Centre to the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) passed seven to two at Monday’s City Council meeting following a defeated amendment that would have required the PAGC to sell the property to a First Nations government if they didn’t want to keep the property.
The suggestion came from Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp, who said she believes that the sale should be kept between governments since it is a public building.
“We are responsible to the public where this building will go for the long-term,” she said. “If we are selling the Margo Fournier Centre, it is a positive that it would be sold to another nation-to-nation governance organization.”
City Solicitor Mitchell Holash said the requirement is unusual, but can be done if both parties agreed and would require further negotiation.
Mayor Greg Dionne, along with Coun. Don Cody stated their opposition to the amendment.
“I believe a sale is a sale,” Dionne said. “We shouldn’t put hinders, especially in the 11th hour.”
“I don’t think this is good business,” Cody said. “I think what they are doing here is just great. I think it’s going to be great for the community, great for downtown. I think we have to leave their hands untied.”
Following the majority vote on Monday afternoon, the PAGC will continue on to purchase the property for a total of $375,000.
The organization has also agreed to a condition of sale which states that the portion of the site occupied by the Kinsmen Community Heritage Centre will remain perpetually leased to the City for $1 annually, so Senior’s programming may continue after ownership is changed.
Coun. Tony Head said he understands the resistance to selling the Centre and is not deaf to the concerned senior residents who currently use the building.
“The PAGC is not a private entity, it is a government,” explained Head. “This sale will ensure that the building remains a public building, it will just serve a different public.”
“The programs which will run in that building will help build solid foundations for those people who can’t see a happy, productive future. We very often hear of the undesirable happenings in Prince Albert, our community is struggling with many issues and we all want to see them addressed. I believe that the PAGC’s plan for this building is a huge step forward for all of us.”
Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick said the sale is nothing short of a win-win situation.
“This is a good use of the facility. Right now, it isn’t being used to its full potential,” he said. “The PAGC is going to make that a very happening place, a gathering place.
“Prince Albert was ‘the [meeting] place’, Kistahpinanihk. We just celebrated confederation for the last 155 years, well 10,000 years before that this was a great gathering place and we have to recognize that history as well.”
A recommendation to explore alternative recognition for Margo Fournier was also passed on Monday and a report by Administration will be forwarded to City Council at a future meeting.