A special Red Deer city council meeting will be held Thursday to discuss the future financing of Westerner Park. (File photo by Advocate staff)

A special Red Deer city council meeting will be held Thursday to discuss the future financing of Westerner Park. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer city council to discuss providing $22M in financial assistance to Westerner Park

It would consist of a $3M grant and $19M loan

Red Deer City Council will discuss committing $22 million this week to get Westerner Park back on stable financial footing.

A new agreement between Westerner Park and the City of Red Deer will be considered at a special council meeting on Thursday. The goal is ensuring financial and operating stability for Westerner Park by increasing involvement and legal and financial oversight by the City of Red Deer.

But while city administration is recommending a stronger legal and financial oversight for Westerner Park, it is also proposing financial support of $22 million in response to short-term operational needs, as well as long term-financial sustainability.

The first item recommended is a $3 million cash investment, in the form of a grant, to ensure continued operations of Westerner Park through the pandemic.

A $19 million capital loan is also recommended to enable Westerner Park to pay out an unsustainable loan the non-profit currently holds, related to the expansion of Exhibition Hall.

If approved, the proposed $3 million grant is not expected to impact property taxes as it would be funded through the operating reserve.

However, the $19 million loan would be funded through debt, and with the proposed payback plan, there would be a need to adjust the city’s overall capital plan to accommodate this funding.

“In 2019, Westerner Park notified us about their financial instability, and we have since been working with them to ensure they not only survive the economic downturn and global pandemic, but thrive when in-person events and entertainment can resume,” said city manager Allan Seabrooke.

Related:

-Westerner Park is moving forward — into the unknown

-Strong involvement in Westerner Park is warranted, says mayor

An independent financial audit found the non-profit has suffered both because of the pandemic causing most events to be cancelled, but also through some poor decisions, such as building a new hall during a prolonged recession and over-estimating the gains from certain contracts.

Seabrooke said without support from the City of Red Deer, Westerner Park cannot continue to operate based on current capital and operating projections.

“It is unfortunate that the city has to consider doing this, but ensuring the success of Westerner Park is mutually beneficial as it drives $150 million in economic activity annually when normal operations are possible. Westerner Park is an important part of the region’s economic recovery and long term community resiliency,” added Seabrooke.

“We based our recommendations for financial support on seven years of data and we are confident Westerner Park will be able to pull through these tough times, pay back any loans received, and thrive.”

In addition to this funding, the recommended Relationship Framework Agreement would mean the city has a higher level of involvement in decision-making, budgeting, lease agreements and other major items relating to Westerner Park.

The proposed agreement also outlines expectations on roles and processes for completing a Master Plan for Westerner Park. The plan is expected to establish the 15-year vision, land use concept, building design principles and site-servicing concept.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Red Deer City Council

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read