Wetaskiwin city council looking to another Winter Warm-up

Winter might be cold in the City of Wetaskiwin, but councilors heard during their regular meeting Jan. 9 that the city was warmed...

The Wetaskiwin Winter Warm-up was a resounding success.

Winter might be cold in the City of Wetaskiwin, but councilors heard during their regular meeting Jan. 9 that the city was warmed up by a special event last November.

The Wetaskiwin Winter Warm-up was held the weekend of Nov. 25 and 26, and included the Christmas parade, city hall light-up and lots of other events. City councilors heard a report from Pamela Ganske and Amanda Rule, representing the Community Engagement Committee, the city body which organized the weekend’s events.

“The event was an absolute success,” said Ganske as the committee gave its wrap-up report to council, noting the community strongly supported the event and the committee received lots of positive feedback.

Rule stated the event was a great example of city staff, volunteers and members of the community pitching in to organize a great event.

Ganske stated the event was very strongly promoted in the first place, which ensured most if not all community members knew it was coming up.

That was clear from attendance at different parts of the event, Ganske noted. She stated there were 170 entries to the “Name the moose” competition (the name “Wilbert” was chosen), the parade had over 40 floats, the city hall light-up saw 250 cups of hot chocolate given out, 196 people attended the pancake breakfast, the Santa meet and greet saw 135 photos taken and the park festival saw 625 hot dogs given out.

Ganske noted the event came in under budget. She stated the event cost $38,371.53 to host, while the budget set aside was $50,000. A few good ideas from city staff helped the committee save some money, including inserting a little notice into utility bills instead of mailing a stand-alone notice.

She added that, if the Winter Warm-up becomes an annual event, five more community groups have expressed interest in becoming involved.

Ganske said that some of the committee members didn’t have a lot of experience in organizing a full weekend of events. “This is a brand new experience for us,” she said. Some of the challenges involved a fairly short timeline for getting the event approved and, in the future, having written agreements with sponsors so everyone will clearly know their responsibilities.

She also stated looking ahead, the success of 2016 seems to suggest a second event is a no-brainer. She noted more people are asking to volunteer and the committee would expand its publicity campaign so even more people would know when and where the events will be held.

Councilor Wayne Neilson, a member of the committee, stated the Winter Warm-up was a great event and moved to have the committee’s mandate extended another year and bring a proposal to council for a second event next winter.

Mayor Bill Elliot agreed. “Everybody was very impressed,” said the mayor. “You set the bar pretty high for yourselves. It can only get better.”

Council unanimously passed Neilson’s motion.