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Town calls on Olds Institute to repay $14 million loan

Request is part of an overall call for entity to be refinanced
The Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OI) board wants to meet with its lawyers before deciding how to respond to the town's request for repayment of a $14 million loan.

OLDS — Town council is calling on the Olds Institute – which it is a core member of – to repay a $14 million loan as part of a larger call for that entity’s loan refinancing to be “reorganized” and "additional process thereafter." 

Council made the announcement last Friday.

The Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OI) board wants to meet with its lawyers before deciding how to respond to that request, chair Bill Hall says.

In a news release, Olds council says it has decided to “require the re-organization of the loan financing” for OI after “significant and lengthy consideration.”

It says the purpose of the decision is “to increase the oversight in the town’s investment in the operations of Olds Institute, including O-NET.”

OI is a non-profit entity founded in 2001 by the town along with Olds College, Olds & District Chamber of Commerce and the Olds Regional Exhibition.

It oversees Olds Fibre Ltd., a for-profit business that owns O-NET.

O-NET is a community-owned firm that provides high-speed internet as well as phone and TV service.

Several years ago, the town arranged to obtain loans totalling $14 million to help to finance installation of fibre optic lines to homes and businesses throughout Olds to connect customers to O-NET.

“The council has begun the first steps toward this process through legal counsel, which includes the request for repayment of the $14 million loan to Olds Institute and additional process thereafter,” the release says.

In 2017, during an appearance before town council, then OI chair Cody Becker said the loans were still being used to finance those installations as more customers came on-stream and as more subdivisions are built.

In its news release, the town says the decision to call for the loan financing to be reorganized won’t change day-to-day operations for OI or O-NET.

“This will mean business as usual for Olds Institute and will not disrupt services/operations offered by O-NET,” the release says.

“The town’s goal is to work collaboratively and co-operatively with Olds Institute toward a mutually agreeable solution.

“Olds town council has been a strong supporter of O-NET in the past and will continue to do so during this re-organization.

“Olds town council looks forward to an efficient and productive process and a continued operation and services of the organizations in the ordinary course,” the release adds.

Doug Collie

About the Author: Doug Collie

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