Last Mountain Coop responds to closure questions

President of the Last Mountain Coop Nettie Pearce has responded to questions from the Town of Nokomis after their only gas station/agro centre closed suddenly on August 25th and remains closed today. The next closest retail location is in Lanigan, 39 km away. For Nokomis Mayor David Mark and the town council, the closure was unacceptable, surmising it was being left to die because the General Manager didn’t take steps to mitigate the shortage and that offers of help to reopen were not taken up. Last Mountain Co-op General Manager Ward Bruner said the closure was due to staffing shortages and was in the process of interviewing potential candidates.

An October 26th letter to the Town of Nokomis Pearce acknowledges the difficulty the closure has caused the community, calling it “temporary.”

“The Board of Directors has instructed the General Manager to continue with the process of permanently staffing the location with the goal of reopening with full services. The hiring process has progressed in recent weeks and several candidates have been interviewed. We are hopeful that the staffing process will be completed very soon, and the location will reopen in the very near future.” Pearce closes the letter by saying the board will continue to communicate with the Town regarding the progress of the staffing process.

The Town of Nokomis wrote a letter to Federated Coop Limited(FCL) asking them to intervene. The FCL responded, clarifying its role as a wholesaler manufacturer owned by 160 western independent co-ops which make independent decisions with which they don’t interfere. Mark said it was a shot in the dark writing the FCL and that it was political naivety on his part as to their function. However, Mark said, “In the letter, they do show that the board has a role to intervene if required to provide strategic direction and that’s what we’ve seen.”

“We haven’t taken any more action this week because we are honoring the boards position and they say they are going to get the doors open, and we are going to work with the board.”

Mayor Mark sees big things and a prosperous future for Nokomis and the region. The Town is looking at organizing a mid-winter community forum sometime in 2023. “To continue this process through this event and continue dialogue through the winter so that one- it never happens again and two - never needs to happen. And that we ultimately see growth, that we see agriservices in Nokomis grow to meet a growing need and get on with business, make the coop stronger. We can all work together independently, we already do.”

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times