The Town of Ponoka will go ahead with a five-year renewable agreement with the Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA), committing the PSA to fund the cost of two police constables on the Stampede grounds during Stampede week.
The matter came before council during its regular meeting on May 14.
Over the seven-day period, the cost to the PSA would be $16,800, based on overtime rates and travel costs for a rate of $100 per hour.
“I believe the Ponoka Stampede is in favour of the agreement,” said Tim Schmidt, presenting on behalf of CAO Albert Flootman who was absent. Schmidt is the general manager of planning and infrastructure.
“We expect the community to do things and have events and we do appreciate the amount of people that come into our town as it puts us on the map,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett during the meeting.
The town has had a partnership with the PSA since 1936 and public safety remains a priority for both.
The PSA hires its own security each year for the grounds and that team is supplemented by RCMP constables on the grounds and additional RCMP resources in the community to meet service needs.
The cost for additional RCMP services in recent years has been around $30,000 to $40,000, of which the PSA traditionally paid half of.
There is no current written agreement with the PSA and the town over policing costs during Stampede week.
After Coun. Ted Dillon, Schmidt and Flootman visited with the Calgary Stampede and the City of Calgary, the Town of Ponoka learned that the Calgary Stampede pays for onsite policing and private security and the city pays for the extra cost of policing off the grounds.
“The reason we were looking for a longer-term agreement is because it seems like every year around the first of May we start getting into a tizzy of trying to figure out what its going to cost and how many police officers (will be needed),” said Bonnett.
“Last year it really came to a head because we had only six constables and three of them wound up going to the G8 conference as well so we really had some significant issues and didn’t know where our costs were going to be in line so we basically came to an agreement that we want to at least get something in the ground of a two or three, or five-year agreement.”
“I just want to speak in support of the five-year (agreement),” said Coun. Teri Underhill. “It’s nice to give some clarity to the Stampede Association to know that they have some time to negotiate a new agreement with a new council.”
Councillors voted to authorize the mayor and CAO to execute the agreement with the PSA for the term June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2023.
“It’s longer term so that we all know that there’s going to be no surprises next year and if there are surprises, we’ve got to take those into account for future agreements,” said Bonnett.
Former councillor speaks
Former town councillor Les Oberst spoke to council during the public forum portion of the meeting on May 14.
“I just wanted council to be aware that I was a part of that with Ken Greenwell when he came up with the fifty-fifty agreement and we worked pretty hard with it,” he said.
“We felt, at the end of the day, as the culture representatives for the Stampede Association through council … we felt it was value-added dollars to keep the community safer during the rodeo season.
“We just felt it was the best formula, the fifty-fifty split. I think it’s part of our job, representing people in town to make your community as safe as possible.”