After a multi-year sabbatical of the Wetaskiwin AirShow Society, the first air show for Wetaskiwin since 2012 is being planned and set for July 20, 2016.
City council accepted the AirShow Society’s presentation, made during its Feb. 22 meeting, as information but council stated they will look harder at an agreement, support and negotiations in the near future as the society needs an answer posthaste to continue to confidently prepare for the show.
During its presentation, the AirShow Society asked if council would be potentially offering the same amount of financial support as it had in the past. “We’re simply looking for a re-affirmation of support we’ve had from the city in the past,” said board of directors member Brett Binnie.
In July of 2009 the AirShow Society and the City of Wetaskiwin entered an agreement for the 2010 air show stating the city would provide the funding: $45,000 effective August 2009, $40,000 effective October 2009, $40,000 effective January 2010 and $40,000 each following Jan. 1.
Binnie says the Wetaskiwin AirShow Society is looking to gradually rebuild its reputation in the air show world with a “modest” mid-week summer show.
The Royal Canadian Force Snowbirds, Skyhawks and CF-18 Hornet teams will perform demonstrations, as well as other pilots.
Binnie says the expected number of attendees rests between 10,000 and 15,000, which is much lower than the later shows the society previously hosted. Shows in the past also spanned over two days as opposed to one.
“You’re putting on a modest one day event and you’re asking for the same amount of support?” Coun. Wayne Neilson questioned Binnie.
Coun. Patricia McQuarrie says she is not comfortable with many of the monetary numbers included in the agreement, including the city setting aside another $70,000 to cover any shortfall that may occur beyond the control of the Wetaskiwin AirShow Society.
After asking city council for financial support, MacQuarrie informed the Wetaskiwin AirShow Society representatives the previous society members had chose not to resign an agreement with the city before its hiatus.
Binnie says that is new news to him. “We used that agreement only because that’s what we inherited.”
Coun. Joe Branco is also concerned the event may suffer for volunteers because the show is set mid-week.
“Volunteers are a little tougher,” said Binnie. He added finding volunteers for previous shows had not been too much of a challenge.
Mayor Bill Elliot says Wetaskiwin has a strong reputation in the air show community and that may help drive a volunteer base.
“People might want to get involved as volunteers but they may also want to get involved in fundraising,” said Elliot.
Binnie says a Facebook page is already set up and a website will be up shortly for those looking to contact the society for fundraising opportunities.
Coun. Bert Horvey was happy and comfortable with the mid-week date. “I’m not afraid at all of the week day. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity.”
Another reason for the mid-week event is viewers, pilots and other service professionals can attend the Wetaskiwin show between other more established weekend shows.
Branco also questioned Binnie how he was going to improve the road closure situation that occurred during previous shows. There was a road closed when the Royal Canadian Air Forces flew.
Council was told nothing would really change with that situation. “There will be some inconvenience.”
Binnie informed council while the Wetaskiwin AirShow Society may need greater support now it is striving to create a more self-sufficient, reoccurring event.