Exhibition Association looks to City to partner on grandstand project

The grandstand of the Yorkton Exhibition grounds needs a major upgrade and the Yorkton Exhibition Association appeared before the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday looking to partner with the City to get the work done.

“The grandstand is a project you are all familiar with as we have been working to refurbish the grandstand to ensure the safety and longevity so it will continue to serve our community well into the future,” said Lori Walsh Past President Yorkton Exhibition Association, in a presentation to Council.

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Restoring the grandstand is a significant priority for not only the Yorkton Exhibition Association, but other community groups alike as it has been a pillar in our community since the first one was built in 1914, she explained.

Walsh called the grandstand an asset to the City “As it is home to great agricultural, educational, entertainment, cultural and community events that help stimulate our economy and bring people together.”

In that regard Walsh said, “The grandstand hosts well over 50,000 guests every year through various events and attractions. Events such as summer fair, chuckwagon and chariot races, outdoor rodeos, RCMP Musical Ride, Truck and tractor pulls, GX94 Star Search, demolition derbies, Rhythm’n Ribs, monster trucks and the list goes on.”

And there is potential for more, suggested Walsh.

“The facility also opens new opportunities that Yorkton cannot afford to miss out on. The grandstand is a strong economic driver as it not only attracts people from Yorkton, it also attracts people from within the region to our city which benefits our local economy,” she said.

“Without a grandstand, bringing events to our city would be extremely difficult and likely would not happen.”

Walsh said the benefits are obvious.

“In 2019 alone, it is estimated the economic impact of events and attractions hosted at the grandstand contributed well over $5 million to our local economy – our guests stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and support local businesses. Our community needs this facility now more than ever,” she said. “...The grandstand is an important facility for Yorkton and once our economy is back up and running it will be even more critical to the health and wellbeing of our community as it will help bring us together again. Working in our favor, this is an outdoor facility with space to social distance so it may be even more important than ever before. We recognize there continues to be uncertainty in what the future may hold, but one thing we hope doesn’t change is the ability that brings great events and entertainment to Yorkton.”

Later in the meeting Councilor Ken Chyz would pick up on the economics of the grandstand, noting there are “a lot of economic spin-offs to the city.”

Walsh said the YEA has been working with our engineering firm to develop engineered drawings for the project.

“We have fully explored two options; one is a repair of the existing grandstand and the second is a ‘new build’,” she added. “We explored both options in depth and based on multiple factors, have decided to proceed with a ‘new build’.”

By new build, the existing roof structure would remain, with all other elements of the grandstand replaced.

“The new build makes the most sense and has long term benefits as it will be fully replaced improving its life span,” said Walsh.

The total estimated cost of this project is approximately $530,000 and that includes a project contingency.

To-date the YEA has raised about $100,000 towards the project, said Walsh.

Now the YEA wants some City help, said Walsh.

“We are requesting the city contribute a total of $250,000 towards this project,” she said, adding they are also “requesting an interest free loan for the remainder of the funds with annual payments amortized over a 15-year period.

“We would continue to pay down the loan as funds are available with hopes to pay back the loan in a much shorter time frame.”

Darcy McLeod, Director of Community Development, Parks and Recreation, with the City noted the Gallagher Centre Management Board, which consists of five members of Council and four members of the Yorkton Exhibition Association, approved a motion that included the following;

*That Administration work with the Yorkton Exhibition Association on the rehabilitation of the Grandstand as per the BBK Engineering Report dated June 25, 2019 and the related KOVA Engineering Report dated July 16, 2019.

*That the Yorkton Exhibition Association be permitted to fundraise, including selling naming rights on behalf of the City, for the Grandstand and Old Office Building, with funds raised to be put toward the costs of repairing the Grandstand and replacement of the Old Office Building.

*That the Yorkton Exhibition Association be assigned the lead on the rehabilitation project.

*That the Manager of Capital Projects for the City of Yorkton shall be designated as the City’s representative to the Yorkton Exhibition Association for this project.

“This project is coming to City Council because the Grandstand is an asset of the City which requires significant improvements and the resulting costs impact the City’s budget,” added McLeod.

Council was quickly on-side with the general request.

“I believe this (the grandstand) is part of our culture,” offered Coun. Mitch Hippsley, adding he appreciated the urgency. “I know if we don’t do this now it may never happen.”

While support was evident the project was sent back to City Administration to review the proposed Grandstand Rehabilitation design and develop funding options for Council consideration at their Oct 5 regular Council meeting, with Coun. Randy Goulden saying that since it is public dollars due diligence is required.

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