Westerner Park will seek other ways to find $1 million after Red Deer County passed on a grant request.
“We understand their decision but it’s certainly disappointing because it would have been of great benefit,” said CEO Mike Olesen, of the request for $1 million to upgrade the ice making and climate control at the Centrium.
It was hoped to leverage the funding for a matching $1 million provincial government grant to cover most of the cost of the $2.1 million project. The deadline to apply for that grant is next Tuesday.
County council unanimously turned down the request on Tuesday, citing tight finances and questions about how the Centrium project fit in with the county’s agricultural focus.
“We definitely need to regroup on plans to take advantage of the opportunity for the matching grant from the province,” said Olesen on Wednesday. “We’re exploring our options to generate the funds to have that matching grant.
“That will have to come in other forms, whether it be corporate sponsorship or otherwise making budget adjustments to fulfill the operational needs.”
Olesen believes there are opportunities to do a better job of reaching to other municipalities in the region, which benefits to the tune of $100 million in economic benefits from Westerner Park during normal operating years.
“I think we need to do a better job of engaging in partnerships with those other municipalities. We obviously drive economic benefits for the region.
“We want to make sure we reinforce those relationships with those groups and look at ways to help them reach their strategic goals, which is the approach we’ve taken with the county.”
The ice making and climate control machinery at the Centrium is 30 years old and nearing the end of its lifespan. Besides being old, it is expensive to repair and costly to operate.
While the equipment has some life left in it, the clock is ticking.
“We can meet our needs for the foreseeable future but it is definitely something that needs to be looked at immediately. It’s been in our (replacement) plan for quite a while.”