Ag society grant is only $17,500

Regarding the article by Amelia Naismith in the March 17. 2016 Flyer titled, “Lakedell Agricultural Society Requests One-time Donation”

Dear editor:

Regarding the article by Amelia Naismith in the March 17. 2016 Flyer titled, “Lakedell Agricultural Society Requests One-time Donation”, Ms. Naismith gets most of it right but there was one howling error that paints Lakedell Ag Society in a bad light. First, I am not a director at Lakedell Ag, I am a former director and current active volunteer.

In her article, she states that Lakedell Ag. receives $175,000 from Alberta Agriculture as a base grant. That is very much incorrect. Lakedell, like all agricultural societies in the province, receives $17,500 as a base grant. This base grant is given to every agricultural society regardless of its membership, what assets it manages or what facilities it operates. For example, some ag societies consist of a minimum board of directors, operate no facilities and only put on the required single event, such as a pancake breakfast. They get $17,500. These smaller ag societies tend to re-distribute this money to libraries, youth groups and other community activities. Lakedell Ag Society operates almost 30,000 sq. ft. of indoor facilities, some of which are available to the public 365 days of the year. We employ people on a part-time basis and are a community hub. We receive the same $17,500. I can assure you of this.

Operating grants are important to the functioning of non-profit public service bodies, but they only provide about 20 per cent of the operating revenue at Lakedell Ag. Society. These days our group works diligently with complicated insurance and tax structures, aging infrastructure and a struggling volunteer base, yet we manage to provide safe and decent facilities and programs to our rural neighbours. It’s often an uphill climb and a thankless job. Lakedell Ag appreciates the support of the County of Wetaskiwin in the past and currently. They realize the value of our service and the challenges we face.

We have had some detractors in the past and this printed error doesn’t help. But for all those out there who appreciate the hard work of the few individuals out there who work at Lakedell Ag, or the Falun rink and hall, or at the Buck Lake Stampede, or any of those coaching or volunteering, don’t forget to say thanks once in a while.

Tim Belec,

County of Wetaskiwin


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