Planners at the Calnash Ag Event Centre are looking for help from Ponoka County for a project that will improve the building.
Led by Linc Drynan, president of the Ponoka Agricultural Society, the group is asking for $800,000 to build a large cattle pavilion connecting the ag event centre barn and main arena. Drynan told Ponoka County council Tuesday, March 8 that this plan was always in the works for the ag centre and is the third phase of the project.
He suggests the centre’s events generate $6 million of revenue that benefits Ponoka. “I think that it’s a big boon to the community.”
The third phase of the project, named the Cattle Pavilion, will allow the ag event centre staff to host a more diverse range of events. The proposal is to build a covered pavilion that is open to the air and allows a place to store cattle.
Building the pavilion is something that will create some ease for current customers, added Drynan. Customers like the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals and the Black Elk Cutting Classic have expressed a desire to see a pavilion.
“We have to keep both our users happy and our suppliers happy,” said Drynan.
The pavilion will serve a double purpose; sand used for different events will be stored and kept dry in the pavilion alongside storing cattle. Drynan added it will be built strong enough to hoist solar panels on the roof, although plans are not set for that.
CAO Charlie Cutforth said initial plans with the Calnash Ag Event Centre were always foressen to include the pavilion. “Legitimately, it will attract different events,” said Cutforth.
The full project is estimated at $1.6 million and the Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society (PAECS) is requesting half that from the county. Drynan said the group is in full fundraising force and Ponoka’s MP and MLA have also been contacted. Drynan said there was some potential to work with corporate sponsorship but the economic situation in Alberta has made it difficult to gain corporate support.
Of the $1.6 million required for the project, PAECS has the potential to spend $250,000. He said a request will go to the town, but it is unclear if any funds will come their way. Drynan hopes the town will be able to contribute with services in kind.
Coun. Mark Matejka was concerned the building would not be shared equally with cattle ranchers. “We’ve heard that before. That main building was supposed to be shared.”
While he said he was not against the project, he said he received this same question from county residents.
Cutforth added there is a challenge when hosting different events such as horse shows that help pay the bills and cattle shows that support the local industry. He said if building the pavilion adds to the versatility of the centre, then it would be a positive project.
He suggested the project would bring some benefit to local groups if used as intended.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin feels having provincial and federal support would help with the project. “What could you pull off for $800,000?” asked McLauchlin.
Drynan replied the goal is to build it right and offered that organizers would be willing to accept the money over a two to three year period. With the building being booked 43 weeks out of the year, Drynan suggests the added pavilion would become more attractive to users.
McLauchlin said council would make the decision on the request during budget deliberations.