Governments should regulate the abandonment and demolition of prairie grain elevators similar to how they regulate rail line abandonment and removal, says the head of a community group trying to save an elevator in Raymore, Sask.
Terry Fazakas says governments should require grain companies to offer mothballed elevators and other grainhandling assets for sale to interested parties before demolishing them.
Raymore’s concrete elevator is slated for demolition.
Fazakas has approached the elevator’s owner, Cargill Canada, with an offer to buy, but Cargill officials said last week the facility is not for sale and it will be demolished.
“It should be just like rail-line abandonment,” said Fazakas.
“If they don’t want to operate it, that’s fine but what is the reason that they don’t want to sell it? Is it competition?”
Fazakas has been leading local efforts to buy the elevator but so far, his efforts have hit a stonewall.
When Fazakas initially expressed an interest, Cargill told him he would need to submit a business plan and a formal proposal. Since then, he has been told that Cargill is not interested in selling.
The elevator sits on leased land owned by Canadian National Railway.
CN has also indicated that it is not interested in selling the land.
In a last minute effort to save the elevator, Fazakas has contacted three First Nations groups, who have agreed to support efforts to save the building.
Chiefs from Kawacatoose, Muskowekwan and Daystar First Nations have come on board to support efforts to save the facility, which Fazakas says could be used to create new jobs, attract new investment and support the local economy.
“We’re just trying to get everybody to the table — CN, Cargill, the Town (of Raymore) and the First Nations,” Fazakas said.
“We need to get everyone together and figure out what the major roadblocks are and see if we can figure out a deal.”
“I don’t understand why they’re so adamant about tearing it down,” Fazakas said.
“If you’re not going to use it and it still has a lifespan, why wouldn’t you want to see the town carry on and put it to use?”
Local supporters say they are prepared to sign a non-competition clause to ensure that a repurposed facility would not compete directly with Cargill’s core business.
Last week, Cargill officials who were in Davidson, Sask., said the company’s position has not changed.
The elevator is not feasible to operate and the facility is not for sale.
Cargill is still committed to maintaining other operations in Raymore, added Jeff Wildeman, Cargill’s regional manager in Saskatchewan.
Cargill also has a fertilizer shed and operates an ag retail business in Raymore.
“We’re absolutely committed to our Raymore business,” Wildeman said.
Fazakas said provincial Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart has indicated that the province is not inclined to get involved in private-sector business decisions.