Stampede Association reluctant to discuss 50-year lease

A request by the Town of Ponoka to re-evaluate a 50-year agreement with the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association

A request by the Town of Ponoka to re-evaluate a 50-year agreement with the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association has not received an enthusiastic response.

The town recently sent a letter to the Stampede Association in the hopes of seeing some sort of amendment to an agreement approved by town council in 2000, which sets the use of the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex and the land around it until 2050.

The association responded briefly, yet concisely, with a letter stating it will be available and willing to discuss the issues brought forward at its board meeting in March.

The response concludes by directing  the town to the original agreement “There is a signed 50-year lease agreement in place between the Ponoka Stampede Association and the Town of Ponoka, which is not open for negotiation. We made a deal and we are committed to it.”

In the six page agreement, guidelines are set for use of the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex and parking around it, as well as setting a concession boundary and town-owned equipment rental agreement.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said the intent of the letter was to open up discussions with the Stampede Association but not to take away from the actual Stampede week. “We want to work with the Stampede,” said Bonnett.

He added that much can change in 50 years and he feels that “we (council) do notice some things in this agreement that need to be refined.”

Many residents have expressed their desire to see a multiplex in the town and Bonnett says initial planning has already begun. He feels it is important to work closely with the association as the arena has another 20 to 25 years of life left, well under the end of the lease agreement with the town.

Bonnett says council has to consider not only the possibility of recreation in a new multiplex, but a new town administration building and a new RCMP detachment and part of those discussions should involve the association.

Some of the issues identified in the letter to the Stampede Association tackle parking during parade day, dealing with outdated clauses in the agreement, but Bonnett says the town also wants to help enhance the Stampede week and he would like to see the Stampede Grounds used more often.

“It’s about trying to work together as a group,” explained Bonnett.

Stampede president Mike Stretch said he wanted to meet with the association before commenting.