By Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2023.
It was mind-boggling to watch online the entire city council discussion pertaining to the Lethbridge Exhibition requesting funds from the city taxpayers again, on an emergency basis.
This latest ask follows the ask from March 17, 2023 for $4.6 million to complete the centre. As I watched the discussion and the variety of reasons that emergency funding was requested, I could not help but think of all of the local businesses that also faced similar challenges: COVID, rising inflation, increasing interest rate, rising operational costs, etc. etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could ask for emergency funding, while not being able to answer completely all of the questions posed?
Councillor Schmidt-Rempel might have been the second most entertaining behind CEO Mike Warkentin who was at a loss for words and could not intelligently answer many questions including what the revenue forecasts were, what the break-even point was, or whether the contract was fixed fee.
Schmidt-Rempel, who claims to have experience with start-ups, should know that no funder should flow millions of dollars to an organization, led by a CEO who could not answer basic questions fundamental to a basic business plan.
Thankfully, councillor Parker picked up on this and desperately asked for Mr. Warkentin several times to provide some confidence to the shareholders (taxpayers). As a taxpayer struggling to pay bills and not being able to ask for emergency funding, a ray of hope in the midst of the insanity came when City administration made a presentation shedding light on the fact that the $6.752 million ask is really an ask totaling $33.1 million in known potential future requests.
Even with this knowledge, Schmidt-Rempel insisted council should provide the funding without even trying to get support from the province, translating to passing on the full burden to the taxpayers.
Some common sense needs to be infused into this insanity. I wholeheartedly agree with Parker that the “city is going to be hung out to dry.” And councillor Schmidt-Rempel, shame on you for being the lone vote against retaining an independent third party to evaluate and provide recommendations to help us with this boon-doggle!
In my opinion, council needs to investigate the entire Exhibition Board and senior leadership for mismanagement. Lethbridge taxpayers, it’s time to stop this stupidity.
Calgary – former Lethbridge resident and business owner