Public response positive for proposed ag centre

The proposed agricultural centre in Rimbey could begin to take shape before freeze up.

The proposed agricultural centre in Rimbey could begin to take shape before freeze up.

Ag society director Ben Ostrem said advertisements will go out soon for a builder.

“We’re hoping to have footings and groundwork done before freeze up and the structure built to the lock up stage by next spring.”

Directors from the Rimbey Agricultural Society and representatives from RC Strategies were on hand at the Rimbey Farmers’ Market Aug. 25 to provide information and answer questions about the proposed Agrim Centre.

Ostrem said the response was good and it is evident the community supports the proposal.

Steve Slaweta, an associate from RC Strategies, who also attended the farmers’ market, said a feasibility study/business plan regarding the proposal showed positive results.

Seventy-nine responses were received from a six-week online survey conducted by RC Strategies. The survey indicated that 79 per cent of those who participated had taken part in agro-recreational activities and 89 per cent of those activities were in Rimbey. Sixty seven per cent of the survey participants said a new building was necessary.

According to the survey, the top priorities include a full-sized riding arena, concession areas, a warm-up area for riding, permanent grandstand seating and stable space.

The seven user groups, most of whom participate in agricultural-related activities, stated the building could be used for major events, monthly meetings and seminars, practices, clinics, workshops, major show and sale events, award banquets and indoor rodeos.

Slaweta said RC Strategies is confident the project will be a win/win for Rimbey.

“We are just really excited to see the ag society make it happen,” he said. “And we are sure they will be very successful in getting it off the ground.”

The proposed multi-million dollar, multi-use centre is to be located in the infield of the rodeo grounds and is being constructed with a seating capacity of around 900.

The facility is projected to be a moneymaker and as much as $1.9 million could be realized annually by hotels, restaurants and service stations if 30 events are held throughout the year.

Projected annual revenues of approximately $203,000 far outweigh estimated operating expenses of $168,000.

The ag society is grateful that Ponoka County has come through with $500,000 for the project, as well as donated dirt work at no cost for the project.

Funding is also to come from the province and the ag society, itself.

“We are also looking for local sponsorship,” said Ostrem.