After several years of planning, shovels were finally brought out of hibernation and a few hearty scoops of sod officially launched the third phase of the Rimbey Agrim Centre.
The July 3 sod turning ceremony took place on the Rimbey Rodeo Grounds and was attended by members of Ponoka County, the Town of Rimbey and the Rimbey Agricultural Society.
The 60,000-square-foot Agrim Centre will include a riding arena, meeting space, boardroom, announcers box, concession and a grandstand to seat 900.
Spokesperson Tim Edge says the centre will be one of the biggest and best, as well as the second of its kind in Ponoka County, with Ponoka’s Calnash Ag Event Centre. “With this second building Ponoka County is going to be at the mecca of agri-recreation in Alberta.”
With the hopeful completion of the building by next spring, the Agrim Centre will affect all aspects of Rimbey — bringing in more tourists and business traffic as well as providing more space for organizations such as the Rimbey 4-H Multi Club.
Ag society director Ben Ostrem says pilings should start going in mid-July and the building’s shell completed this fall.
“We want the shell finished and locked up before winter,” said Ostrem. “It’s a dream come true.”
In a press release, Edge says Ironwood Building Systems is the main contractor but local businesses will also be used whenever possible.
“This is a facility that will bring people to town,” said Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson. “It will bind together the community … The greater community. It’s nothing but good.”
Businesses are also excited for the traffic and benefits the town will reap from having the centre located right within the community. “We welcome the building. It’ll be excellent for the community,” said Ken Whitelock of Midwest Propane.
The rodeo grounds were the third proposed site for the centre and the only one within town. Whitelock and Ostrem agree the centre will have the most positive impact built within town.
Ostrem feels had another location been chosen, people would be attracted only to the centre and their presence wouldn’t spill into other areas of Rimbey.
Since the beginning of the project Ponoka County has been heavily involved, contributing $1.2 million. CAO Charlie Cutforth says Ponoka County provided $1 million cash and purchased more land for project expansion.
“We love contributing to Rimbey,” said Coun. Gawney Hinkley. “We don’t have a problem contributing to agriculture anywhere in Ponoka County.”
“As long as I’m on council I will continue to contribute to Rimbey because it’s one of my favourite spots,” he added.
Rimbey area Coun. Keith Beebe also commented on the privileged opportunity the county was given in way of contributing and also believed the centre would only benefit Rimbey. “This is going to be a great thing for this town.”
Several other organizations have also donated to the Agrim Society, including Rimbey’s 4-H Multi Club, who presented the Agricultural Society with a cheque of $2,000 during the ceremony.
Club treasurer Nicole Waldron says she and the other club members are looking forward to having more room and a much-needed larger washing bay.
“The cows are, like, squished in the barn,” contributed secretary Melissa Waldron.
Ag society treasurer Shirley Ingram says community support has been wonderful but she’s hoping the pace will pick up more once the pilings are in the ground. “I think people still think this is just a dream,” she said.
The project is also seeking sponsorship on a corporate level. “Anybody that wants to jump in and be involved in one of the biggest and best facilities,” says Edge.
For more information on the Agrim Centre visit www.agrim.ca.