OPINION: Ponoka’s ag event centre should regroup and restart

Despite power struggles, the Calnash Ag Event Centre has seen profits and success

With the Calnash Ag Event Centre operations doing so well it may be time for its board of directors to reconsider a revamp.

For the security of staff and volunteers, and the benefits it brings this small community, this may be the best option.

The recent chaos surrounding the building is not the first and it may not be the last. While its four members see conflicting needs around the building these power struggles will continue to bring some havoc around it.

The previous ousting of the building’s first manager, Chas Lambert, was initially seen as a growing pain for the building and PAECS members just getting their feet wet. That chaos put a veil over the building’s first full year of operations, which saw profit.

Of course it means the founding partners: the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association (PSA – with three members), the Ponoka Agricultural Society (PAS – with three members) and the town and county of Ponoka each with one member plus a member at large, will have to rethink its layout, its bylaws, its processes and its objectives. It also means the directors will have to set up the building for success with clear and fair governance and bylaws, something that could probably have used some editing at the outset.

Read More: Ponoka’s ag society board under scrutiny

This is the best time to do that. The building has been making profits every single year that it has been in operation and this year is no exception.

It’s such a great addition to this community.

Since the ag event centre was built, the town’s south end has become a talking point. Businesses circle the building and the town has seen a new hotel in town and almost every weekend the building is full. Going on its own would allow the new, fresh and revitalized board to seek input from residents on what they too would like to see there.

By going alone I also mean reshaping the entire board.

When the building was first pitched to this community, it was promoted as a major event centre that would be busy on the weekends and available to community groups on the weekdays.

The area 4-H clubs are still waiting for the day that they can use the building for their programs and events. It was meant to be a centre where more than just the regular equine events and a few rough stock events were held. Residents were told that the building would see major programs such as ag trade shows and more.

It’s not that these events are bad, far from it, the problem is that the building has a different use than was explained to area residents. Perhaps we should go back to what it was originally purposed for.

For the current board members who have put in countless hours to the building, they must be commended for their dedication. Without request for money or compensation, these individuals had a dream and they saw it through. A special acknowledgement of their efforts should be recognized not only in the foyer of the building but in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, which also counts its home at the ag event centre.

Creating a new, standalone PAECS, with no influence from any of its current four partners, its autonomy will allow it to grow even further.

This building has been making money thanks to the hard work of its staff, and the board of course, and now is the best time to provide those staff members with job security.

User reviews of the building are glowing and the current power struggles only do damage to the reputation of the Calnash Ag Event Centre and to the people of Ponoka. These unnecessary power plays are a stain on an otherwise spotless building.

This most recent bit of trouble will again put a shadow on the building’s amazing year and future potential. Autonomy and empowerment are key to its success.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

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