It’s official: the previously agreed upon land has been transferred to the Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA).
The town and the PSA signed the agreement on March 11 at the town office after town council passed a motion to approve the transfer in an in-camera session during their regular meeting on March 9.
“The Ponoka Stampede Association appreciates the long history of collaboration and partnership between the Stampede and the town over the past 85 years,” said Bruce Harbin, PSA president in a press release.
“This land transfer is an important next chapter in that long history.”
A sale and consolidation agreement had been finalized for the lands described as the south portion of SE-5-43-25-W4 which is south of Hwy. 53 as well as the closed portion of 54 St. within the quarter section.
The lands include the area occupied by the Stampede track, grandstands and suites.
The PSA has leased these 35.7 acres of land from the town at no charge or for a nominal fee since the late 1930s, according to the town.
“By transferring ownership of the Stampede grounds to the Stampede association, the town is investing in the long-term success and permanency of the Stampede on that property so it can continue to grow and develop into the future,” said Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett in a release.
“The Stampede’s continued growth means it can continue to generate considerable economic benefit for our community by hosting a major tourism event that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Ponoka each summer.”
The town first signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the PSA in June, 2020.
A number of steps had to be completed before the land could be transferred, including waiving the requirements of the Land Disposition Policy for an appraisal to be completed and closing the portion of 54 St. south of Hwy. 53.
In accordance with the MOU, the land transfer agreement includes conditions that must be satisfied before the agreement takes effect.
The conditions include subdividing the land on which the Stampede grounds are located from the lands on the north side of Hwy. 53 where the Ponoka Arena Complex is located. The two properties are currently on the same land title.
The PSA is to pay all subdivision, survey and legal fees required.
The transfer agreement also includes a buy-back option. This means the town will be able to purchase back the land for the association at any time over the next 80 years is no longer used for Stampede purposes or if the Stampede intends to sell the land or any portion of it.
The buy-back price for the town would be $1.
As per the MOU, the town and PSA still intend to work together to create an Area Structure Plan to guide future development on the lands being transferred.
The PSA is a community-based group that is run almost entirely by volunteers. The association currently has more than 1,000 local volunteers.
“The Ponoka Stampede will always be committed to continuing to support the local community in numerous ways, including by supporting local non-profit groups that rely on the Stampede for donations and fundraising,” said Harbin.
Visitor Information Centre
Town council also passed a motion to remove the Visitor Information Centre from the listing of surplus land available for sale and authorized administration to negotiate leasing of the building during an in-camera session March 9.