Wetaskiwin Ag Society denied provincial grant for facility

Ag society speaks to county council about supporting grant applications

The Wetaskiwin Ag Society’s new facility is coming along, heard County of Wetaskiwin council Nov. 6, but difficulty obtaining a major grant hasn’t made things any easier.

Council hosted two representatives, director Keith Rasmuson and treasurer Connie York of the Ag Society at the regular council meeting to hear an update on the society’s new building project.

A memo for councilors summarized much of the project’s financial information.

“The Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society accomplishes their initiatives through various activities such as community fairs, rodeo, gymkhanas, farmers market, riding clubs, heritage and cultural events, community youth programs, community beautification and 4-H,” stated the memo.

“They rely on community grants, provincial grants and fundraising.

“Representatives of the Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society requested an audience with council to provide an update on their multiplex building project that they are constructing that will replace the current office and board room (portable building) with additional space for public washrooms, kitchen and a main hall that would accommodate approximately 400 people.

“This facility will give further options for public rental spaces that includes an existing green space which few other local facilities have. This space will host events such as seminars and livestock events which draw people from our immediate community and communities from across the province to include (other provinces) as well.”

The memo noted the budget to complete building includes a loan from ATB ($230,000 secured 17 acres along Highway 13) and A/P of $157,156.75 for a total of $387,156.75

The memo stated cash required to finish the building includes the loan and A/P figure of $387,156.75 plus work $410,000. The memo stated cash required to finance the project is $797,156.75.

“The Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society is requesting further involvement from County of Wetaskiwin by assisting with the black soil removal in the parking lot, a commitment to secure Municipal Infrastructure Grant and any other form of financial support,” stated the memo.

It was stated in the memo on January 9th, 2018 council approved the construction of a private access for the Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society on their land described as SE 25-46-24-W4M north from Hwy 13 on RR 240 built to County of Wetaskiwin’s road standards (or Subdivision approval standards) and that the construction cost, to a maximum of $100,000, be included in the 2018 Municipal Capital & Operating Budget.

Rasmuson said the project’s original budget, for the new facility located at the ag society’s property on the north end of Wetaskiwin on Hwy. #13, was $1.1 million, plus some upgrades. Cost to date completed is $818,000, according to information presented at the meeting.

When asked whether the City of Wetaskiwin has contributed financially to the project, Rasmusen answered, “No, they haven’t.” However, Rasmusen noted the city has worked with the ag society on a fire hydrant and issued a letter of support for the project after the ag society presented to city council.

Rasmusen stated the ag society had applied for a fairly large grant, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, from the provincial government but found out last spring the ag society didn’t receive the money.

Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers said this item should be included in regular budget meetings. “We’re just planning for next year’s budget,” said Rooyakkers.

Councilors agreed to take the Ag Society information to their budget talks.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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