John Gleeson, Mountain View Gazette, Feb 01, 2011
Farm Credit Canada will not be financing the Olds Agricultural Society’s planned development for the Highway 2/27 intersection, FCC’s vice-president of western operations told the Gazette last week.
“It’s outside of our mandate,” Clem Samson said Tuesday from his Calgary office.
“We’re governed by a federal mandate and anything to do with entertainment would be deemed ineligible,” Samson said.
On Jan. 12, Eric Bone of the Commonwealth P3 consortium told Mountain View County council that “core financing is in place” and the ag society “would have the opportunity to access” FCC credit for the Gateway Centre project, which would include a racetrack, casino, hotel, restaurant and convention centre, as well as ag society facilities currently situated in Olds.
But that’s not what FCC told Commonwealth officials, Samson said last week.
“They were told in December that this project is ineligible and can’t be done through FCC,” he said.
Samson contacted the Gazette to set the record straight after the story, he said, “went viral.”
“We’re getting an awful lot of pushback from producers in the Olds area asking, ‘What the heck are you doing financing it?’ – which we’re not.”
Contacted by the Gazette, Commonwealth chief operating officer Reid Lillico confirmed there was no FCC backing for the project.
“They’re withdrawing. That’s OK. I’ve replaced them,” Lillico said Tuesday.
“They had one of their people saying they were quite interested in doing things, but they’ve had every ag society in the province calling them” with requests since the story broke, Lillico said.
“They had a change in policy and we’re fine with it,”
Lillico said U.S.-based Largo Capital “is very interested” in financing the ag society component of the project, as well as the agricultural centre of excellence, a “seniors component, if so desired,” and a truck stop.
“That’s definitely been expressed to us in writing and verbally.”
Largo might also be willing to back other components of the project, but that would depend on the percentage of ownership held by OAS, Lillico added.
Otherwise, he said, “I’ve got three casino groups from outside the country that have expressed interest in looking at the casino, hotel, restaurant and convention centre.”
Founded in 1989, Largo Capital is the largest privately owned commercial mortgage banking company in Upstate New York, with offices in Getzville, N.Y., Albany, N.Y., Toronto and Sarasota, Fla., according to its website.
The project moving ahead at the northeast quadrant of the Olds overpass is also contingent on Alberta Transportation selling the property to OAS and the timing of the overpass reconstruction.
That project – which will see the current loop ramp replaced with a diamond configuration – was included last year in Alberta Transportation’s three-year construction schedule.
“We have a schedule and we’re working toward it,” Stu Becker, director for the Central Region, told the Gazette last month, adding that he could not be more specific on the timetable.
“We should have the design finalized shortly,” Becker said.