Many ideas have circled around what to do with the Co-op property.

Many ideas have circled around what to do with the Co-op property.

Co-op catches ideas of SNCIRE group

A non-profit society looking to build a resource economy for the region is proposing a multi-use complex for the city-owned Co-op property.

  • Jul. 15, 2011 7:00 p.m.

A non-profit society looking to build a resource economy for the region is proposing a multi-use complex for the city-owned Co-op property.

Rick Brouwer, executive director for the Skeena-Nass Center for Innovation in Resource Economics (SNCIRE), updated city council July 11 on the group’s idea of using the property for a research and innovation centre mixed with retail, market space, a pedestrian overpass to Keith Ave over the railyard, and subsidized seniors housing in a town-square style facility.

The research centre would be dubbed the “I2 Centre”  for inspiration and incubation. Around this area would be space for public use for artisans like carvers or performers.

“That centre would be where entrepreneurs, creators, inventors from around the region would be able to design and build prototypes that would lead to new businesses in the community and within the region,” Brouwer said.

“By combining it together, our hope is that Terrace would end up having a one of a kind town square complex that would not only attract tourists and new businesses but would also be an urban planning success story warranting….international attention.”

He asked the city for acknowledgement and endorsement of SNCIRE’s plans in taking next steps forward in preparing conceptual drawings.

“We’re not asking you to commit to the concept, we’re not asking you to buy into it,” he said, but proposed the city pay for half of the conceptual drawings, which would bring the city’s share to $1,500.

He said if the city declined to pay the money, SNCIRE would probably go ahead and pay for the drawings itself.

SNCIRE was created in 2009 to bring a resource economy to the region and is made up of a mix of communities, entrepreneurs, businesses and agencies.

Councillor Brian Downie asked where the money was going to come from to keep the doors open.

Brouwer said SNCIRE was looking at forestry industry partners as well as the local university and college, but explained that SNCIRE is in the preliminary planning stages right now and conceptuals are needed to propose the ideas to industry.

Acting deputy mayor Brad Pollard pressed on with the question of money.

“You’ve assured us that you’re not going to show up and ask for $20 million to build it, and that’s great,” he said, but wondered if SNCIRE would be looking to use the property for free.

“Our expectation is to try to create something that could actually function, it’s not our expectation that we would run it,” Brouwer replied.

The city purchased the Co-op building and land for $1 million in November 2005, and it has sat empty since then. There’s an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 cost to remove asbestos and demolish the building that city councillors have been unable to commit to in past budget deliberations. The current city council put the job out for tender earlier this month to see if the asbestos removal and demolition is an affordable option.

Councillor Bruce Bidgood suggested endorsing SNCIRE’s plans and refer the possible $1,500 contribution to administration to look into, which council agreed to.