At the July 16th council meeting, a presentation was provided by Mr. Chris Vachon of the Vachon Group stating Medican’s failure to complete the Sale and Construction Agreement for a hotel. At the Special Meeting of Council held on July 22nd further information was provided relative to the application submitted and approved to the Vachon Group by Best Western International. A resolution from council at this meeting included the municipality reimbursing the Vachon group the value of the application fee and to work with the Vachon Group in moving forward with the hotel development. Having the application remain in place would mean that the franchise approval for the development of the Best Western Plus would be formalized with a two-year window to construct the hotel. There was a resolution at the meeting to re-tender the former Crowsnest Centre site demolition so as to put the municipality in a more favourable position to initiate development on the site.
Although council approved the reimbursement to Vachon it was not identified from where the funding would be sourced.
Councillor Lonsbury then made the following motion: “That the $50,000 application fee to be paid to the Vachon Group as reimbursement for the Best Western Plus application fee be taken from the Municipal Land Reserve account.
Councillor Gallant wanted it clarified that, “we are just voting on the funding source. Is there interest in someone who wants to buy some of the land?”. CAO Myron Thompson responded, “yes, there is a buyer for a portion who wants to move ahead”.
Concillor Saindon asked, “ is there a copy of the memorandum of understanding and has it been signed by the Vachon Group and will council see the memorandum of understanding”. An answer was not provided.
Councillor Saje questioned, “I’m not going to be voting in favour of this”. He noted that he was able to get additional information from Jeff Carlson CAO of Clay Cup Developers who were working with Medican prior to Group Vachon coming on board. He stated that Mr. Carlson told him that in the development industry, the Municipality does not typically put up the funding to secure a hotel franchise. He noted, “according to Mr. Carlson, these funds are put up by the developer”. Saje also noted that in securing the Best Western franchise name could have also been done by Clay Cup Developments or other Best Western approved developers.
Saje said this was contrary to what Thompson had informed council at the special meeting on July 22nd. “I was under the impression at our special council meeting that if we did not decide that day to go with Best Western that the Best Western trade name will not be on the table for Crowsnest Pass”. Saje explained, “two parts stood out to me during my conversation with Carlson. In the Development Industry communities usually do not put up the development fee. It should flash a red flag”.
Gallant agreed that it was not normal for municipalities to put up the funding, but, "It was made clear that, when the applicant submitted his proposal that, it would not continue with every developer, ahh, yes any developer could have applied for that, however Clay Cup was fired from the project, let's remember that as well. They were fired from the project, because they did nothing. They did absolutely nothing. It was my understanding. They came on board, they led them along for several months, that was one of the long delays we had on this project. So I appreciate the comments from Mr Carlson but I don't hold them in very high regard."
Saje informed council that he did not know Clay Cup was fired in November, but rather pulled out of the agreement and that Vachon Group did not come on board until spring.
Mayor Decoux stated that the rest of council was aware that Clay Cup was released by Medican.
Gallant noted, “we are not determining whether we should do it, but rather the funding requirement”. We made that decision. “I don’t hold Mr. Carlson with very high regard. He was fired.”
Saje felt that there is a huge conflict of information when talking to Carlson and the information he has received from administration and for that reason he would vote against the motion.
In an interview with Jeff Carlson he noted that, “Medican wanted me to partner with them, but after looking in to the feasibility study I decided not to join. I looked at the feasibility study and did not think it was done well at all. “I check out feasibility reports all the time, I’m not an amateur and the report was amateurish, a waste of money”. He further stated, “Council is part of the reason I decided to not work with this community. I wasn’t too impressed with council. The fact that they are spending $50,000 to get a Best Western flag is ridiculous”.
Saindon asked for a recorded vote with the motion passed 6-4 with Saidon and Saje opposed, Councillor Gail was not present at the meeting.