Land negotiations for seniors’ lodge in Rimbey fall through

The land negotiations between Ponoka County, the Town of Rimbey and Johnson Estates for the proposed seniors’ lodge

The land negotiations between Ponoka County, the Town of Rimbey and Johnson Estates for the proposed seniors’ lodge have been terminated without success, as development agreement could not be reached between the town and Johnson Estates.

Consequently, the county’s agreements to the project have also been terminated. As part of their agreement with Johnson Estates the county purchased the land for $336,000; they had put nothing else into the project.

“The reality is this land was not for sale,” said CAO Charlie Cutforth. “The whole process, the whole timing, I think is extremely unfortunate.”

Rimoka had approached Johnson Estates with interest in the land and a hope they could settle into a land agreement; the formal offer was made late last fall. Following initial contact Johnson Estate shelled out $26,000 of its own funds to change a structure and servicing plan that had been engineered years earlier. Now they want those out of pocket costs to be reimbursed by the Town of Rimbey, the county, or both.

At council’s Feb. 11 meeting Cutforth recommended council pay the $26,000 upfront and negotiate with the Town of Rimbey for a cost sharing deal. The county had previously put down a 5 per cent deposit, totaling $16,000, and that will go to paying Johnson Estates, leaving a $10,000 balance for the county.

“We’re saying, in good conscience, they should not be out of pocket because Rimoka approached them,” said Cutforth.

“There needs to be discussions with the town. They are partially responsible through Rimoka for triggering the needs for these costs,” said Cutforth.

At their meeting, council dealt with a two-piece motion regarding the dropped land sale. Firstly they agreed to enter into the release agreement with Johnson Estates, and secondly council approved the motion to instruct administration to further look into the other options and negotiations for other potential Rimbey locations for the lodge — a motion Coun. Mark Matejka opposed.

“I don’t think there’s any panic to move on to another land deal we just failed,” said Matejka, who doesn’t think the funding is in place to support another land sale and the negotiations involved.

Other options include a piece of land south of Best Western or another section already owned by the Town of Rimbey in the northeast corner of town, which is serviced. “The only detraction on it is the location of it for the residents,” said Cutforth.