The ball that got rolling back in October for a new hall in Rocanville got a major kick forward last week with an $800,000 donation from PotashCorp, covering one-third of the cost of the project.
PotashCorp made the donation Tuesday at the Rocanville mine site. Mark Fracchia, the President of PCS Potash, was there to hand over the cheque along with PotashCorp Rocanville general manager Iain Guille.
Steve Fortney, the chair of the committee doing the fundraising for the hall, says the donation represents a major step forward for the project.
“We’re extremely impressed,” he says. “That’s definitely a very large contribution and we will definitely be putting it to good use.
“I think it’s very good for the community and I think that with one-third of the hall paid for completely outside of the community by this generous donation, this is definitely the time to proceed with it.”
At their last council meeting, the RM of Rocanville also passed a motion to contribute $400,000 to the new hall, and the town of Rocanville is planning to pass a motion at their June 10 council meeting to contribute $400,000 as well. The contributions from the town and RM will make up another third of the cost of the project.
It is estimated that the new hall can be built for $2.4 million or less.
The remaining one-third of the funding—$800,000—will come from the community in the form of fundraising.
Mark Fracchia, the President of PCS Potash, says he is pleased to be able to support the new hall.
“We saw the need in the town for a facility that could be used by the town and by nearby communities, and also by our folks for certain events,” he says. “We just saw it as a good fit for what we like to do in our communities, and this is a way of showing our appreciation back to the community.
“We don’t do donations of this size every day, but we do certainly try to provide support where we think it’s appropriate, where it’s something we believe in and feel that it’s a benefit to the community, and this is one of them.
“It’s always great to see funding go to something like a town hall where it’s going to be there for a long time, it’s going to be used by a lot of people and certainly have a broader reach than some of the other things we could look at supporting. We are always pleased to give that level of support in the case of a project like we have in Rocanville.”
PotashCorp Rocanville General Manager Iain Guille, says PotashCorp has been interested in supporting the project right from the beginning, and is impressed with the organization that has taken place.
“We have certainly been very keen to be involved right from the outset,” he says.
“The vibe has been very positive from that committee, and we have our own employees involved in sitting on that committee and we get regular feedback from them. I’m really pleased with the direction it’s going. It seems to be well organized, well managed and we like to support something at that level.”
“They’ve been pretty good to all their communities in the mining area,” says Rocanville Mayor Daryl Fingas, who also sits on the planning committee for the new hall. “We had hoped we would get something from them, and when they came up with $800,000 we were pretty pleased with that because that represents one-third of the cost.
“It makes a big difference. Without that donation, I don’t know if the hall really would have went ahead. It’s just too much money to borrow.”
“They are always doing something nice for us,” says RM of Rocanville Reeve Murray Reid, who sits on the planning committee as well. “They put a lot of money into our community and this is probably one of the biggest commitments they’ve done anywhere.
“It probably wouldn’t have happened if PotashCorp wasn’t a player.
“We’re looking forward to the new hall, and if we don’t do it now, it will never happen. PotashCorp is excited about it, and they put their money up front.”
At their meeting last week, Rocanville town council passed a motion to give public notice that it is their intent to borrow $1.2 million at their June 10 meeting. Of that $1.2 million, $400,000 of that will be the town’s contribution to the hall, while the remaining $800,000 will cover the remaining cost of the hall, with the fundraising committee paying that $800,000 back as funds roll in over a few years.
It’s a lot of debt for the town to take on, but Mayor Fingas says he’s confident the community will be able to raise that $800,000.
“I’m pretty positive that we will be able to raise the money. It will take a few years, we know that. But we had a pretty successful fundraising committee when we raised funds for the skating rink.”
As for the town’s $400,000 contribution, it will need to be raised through taxation, however Fingas says the mill rate will likely stay the same.
“Right now we’re doing our budget and our budget looks pretty good. Our mill rate could probably stay the same. Everything looks good. There’s a surplus there now.
Instead of a levy, we might—it depends on council—increase the minimum tax. And if we go up $100 a household, then that’s on there for the duration and it will give us 10 to 12 years to pay off that $400,000.”
Reid says the RM is lucky in that its $400,000 contribution can come out of reserve funding.
“We’re lucky we have a council that is pretty community minded, and it kind of helps we can do it too. We don’t have to raise the mill rate just to do it.”
The donation from PotashCorp and the forthcoming contributions from the RM and town mean that the project will most likely move forward now.
According to Fortney, construction could start at soon as late June. The company lined up to work on the building is Timco Construction out of Churchbridge, the same company that built the Moosomin town office.
A public meeting will be held this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Catholic Church in Rocanville to pass information on to the community about the final stages of the project, and answer any questions the public may have about financing. It will also be a chance for the public to share their final opinions on the project.