July 24th, 2024

Some members of city council also responsible for Exhibition issues


By Lethbridge Herald on December 22, 2023.

Editor: 

So to this end,the present CEO of the Exhibition is stepping down as are the board members? 

This is appropriate and expected under the circumstances. 

But what aout the members of the previous city council who walked hand-in-hand with the Exhibition board into the present financial mess and exposed the citizens of Lethbridge to this boondoggle?

 The decision of the members of the old council to support and sign a long term agreement with the Exhibition board were made without a proper business plan or due diligence and showed an appalling lack of regard for Lethbridge taxpayers. 

Why aren’t the members of the old council accepting responsibility for their lack of good judgement and fiscal responsibility and also resigning – and taking a walk like the members of the Exhibition board? 

The newly elected members of council are not responsible for this mess and at least one raised red flags. 

And the province is justified in rejecting the belated plea for yet more emergency funding based upon their sensible assessment that there is no viable plan in place. Or ever was. 

Which should have been obvious to the members of the previous city council. 

It seems that the members of the old council want to assemble a rescue group comprised of themselves and the city administration. 

Given their recent track record, the odds are very good that they will perpetuate the same boondoggle they helped create.

A clean slate means a clean slate.

Stan Adamus

Lethbridge

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Dennis Bremner

And yet, if there had been no COVID, had not been a recession, had not been a rise in interest rate and esculating costs across the board, had there not been a war in Ukraine, and now one in Israel would things have turned out the differently?
I do agree that the scheduling of events was far too optimistic. Having individuals told that their their event costs would triple in the midst of out of control inflation was probably the dumbest thing possible.
The Exhibition board was between a rock and a hard place. They needed to triple to make payment, and, tripling killed the event for the individuals who hoped to have it.
Not having food services was not smart but if you can’t afford to pay for the event, then you cannot afford to pay for a caterer either.
There will be more pain before any gain and this will cost more in the near future. Lower prices, get the events calendar filled, Get people used to planning their week in Lethbridge looking at the events calendar and it can correct itself.
Get a Promoter who can attract big events. Why not think big, Lethbridge Stampede comes to mind. Car Shows, Carnivals, Dog Shows, Equestrian, Monster truck, BMX, Pow Wows, Trade Shows, from home shows to High tech shows, WheelChair events, Senior Events, Judo, Karate, demonstrations, RV, Spa/Swimming pool, Remote Control Boat, Aircraft, Car, shows, Buy/sell.Sea Doo/Boat, Ski-Doo Ski shows, Hobby Club and Machinery Shows, Woodworking, metal working, Food Shows, Seed/Feed shows. Showcaase Industries that are needed in the Area to support Farming, Machining, Welding, etc etc.
A novel idea- Big item Auction. Requirement- must be 6 square feet but not exceed 30 square feet. Hire an auctioneer, have people check their garages, basements, etc and hire a different auctioneer each time. 2 items per family max.
So how do you get them here? A superb promoter is an absolute must, because Logistics is a HUGE part of all of this! If Promotion was easy then there would be a lot more “Mr Sakamoto’s (sp) around. Its not easy, and you will pay big for a good promoter but he/she needs support. Hotels/motels must be CLEAN, Competitively priced offer friendly service. Restaurants who could set up in the food services section of the Agri-Center, oh ya, nothing available, or pass out discount coupons. A city that opens its doors and offers discount/free parking downtown during the event. Prices that say “WE WANT YOU HERE”! Businesses that DO NOT SCALP!
Most of all, you need to offer BETTER than competitive prices for FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES to make the Agri-Center and Exhibition Grounds to become a destination and an immediate Calendar Check for everyone within 100 miles of Lethbridge.
I do not think the Agri-Center was a mistake, we can either support it and get aggressive, or create a boat anchor that HAD all kinds of potential but never exploited.
And, lastly because my rants would not be complete without mentioning it.
-A City that does not install drug addicts in their downtown or residential areas, to crap, urinate, and bother the tourist or residents/businesses and make them scared to be here!
-A city where a private Housing Authority cannot decide, with a storke of a pen, to make your or my residential area, the next crime area!
-A City that is number 1 in Crime and still insists the number is not relevant, but being number 1 on any other list is relevant!
-A City where you do not need a “Lawlessness Committee” because that is what the “LAW is for”!
-A City that has enough pride to make those who are lawless earn the right to be in this city!
If Agri-Center fails it will be because Complacent Lethbridge wants to be “catered too” rather than fight for Businesses, Residents and its’ City! I just felt a BIG EYE ROLL from the Eye Rollers Association of Lethbridge (ERAL), again!
To make money you have to spend it.

Last edited 7 months ago by Dennis Bremner
Montreal13

Excellent points and ideas. Agri-center has priced itself out of the market,however. Many groups can’t afford to rent there. I believe you mentioned this. Will they change course on this?
Long time Lethbridgians have been dragged down this road before and are not surprised in the least. That is what makes this letter soo important. As of course city staff and councilors are trying to distance themselves from shall we say the details. Including our mayor. Council relies too much on what city staff etc. tell them. Ignorance is no excuse. More heads need to roll now because electorate has any chance to forget.

Dennis Bremner

Rolling heads elsewhere has no effect. Councillors from previous admin and Spearman, in my opinion bare no blame, it was a good idea and can continue to be a good idea. The present Ex people had to go but, no one will really know if they could have been good, bad or great.
If you owe bucks to the city and you cannot make payment because Events are not being booked, is it because its too expensive or because the economy is slowing and it would have died anyway?
If you have a lousy Pro Football team, the stadium tends to empty. Which then prevents the Team owner from paying up for better talent, so you get into a catch-22 you cannot get out of.
A new stadium (Agri-Center) cannot appear to remain empty or its tough to re-convince people to include it in their schedule when it does become busy! .Every day you drive by, and see nothing other than the lights on, is another nail in the coffin!
So, the only logical approach, is to be aggressive, take the financial hit early and fill it ASAP. It really does not matter with what!
Bridge Tournament players, Chess Tournament Players from all over Alberta or farther. Its not hard to think of events for people to attend, it really isn’t what is difficult is finding a promoter like Mr. Sakamoto (sp) that is GOOD AT LOGISTICAL DELIVERY and follow through! I can put out flyers for any event, what I cannot do is what Mr Sakamoto does which is ALL the other work an event needs finished to reach completion!
Charge a reasonable price for entry and parking. So in this environment $10-15 all in, $25 for families, when people have something to do, and its entertaining, different and a good outing, things will change for the Agri-Center until that is accomplished we will pay dearly for this recession.
The last thing you need is a bunch of locals that think big but can’t organize a 1 man rush to a 3 man urinal.( I include myself in that group)

Last edited 7 months ago by Dennis Bremner
Citi Zen

Well spoken, Dennis, all excellent points. But the City is not capable of making this thing profitable. Too many managers, too much red tape. It will forever be a drain on the taxpayer. Turn it over to a corporate sponsor who will lease it, run it, and show a profit.

Learjet

Stan,
I’m not familiar with your background but your comments are spot on. It has been known inside City Hall for a couple years now this tombstone was going to arrive DOA. This updated version of the Titanic was launched under the Needleman regime wth support of the same old gang who continue to weigh this city down with all manner of uselessness from green bins to bike paths. What’s next….electric busses?
If you think this latest symptom of municipal fiscal collapse is the end, fasten your seatbelt. No less a shining light than Coucillor Crowson offered this nugget of wisdom:
“the City has a long history of helping out the Exhibition including in 1920 when the Exhibition board handed over keys to the City. The City also bailed out the Exhibition during the Great Depression and ran it during the Second World War until 1947. The City bailed out the Exhibition again in 1992 when it was in trouble, she pointed out. We’ve always fixed the problems together and the Exhibition and the City have always worked together.”
In other words, when it comes to throwing taxpayers hard-earned money down the toilet, repeated exhibition incompetance forever more is just fine with they who don’t earn money but love to spend yours.
Good grief.

Montreal13

Good grief is right, Learjet.

HaroldP

Digging the hole deeper at Tax Payer expense. This latest allocation of funding, I strongly believe, is not the end, but only the beginning of our tax dollars going to rescue, support and possibly operate the Lethbridge, Exhibition/Agriplex. This should not be a surprise, as (regardless who is in City Council) this is “status quo” for our City…. and perhaps, a TOTAL change, ie. Chestermere, of City Council, as a new direction is definetly needed….unless we are content with inflationary taxes that see no end. History repeats itself at City Hall….taking over Fort Whoopup from private, taking over Chinook Tourist from Private, taking over recycling from Private taking over the Airport…etc….was there ever a thought that perhaps non-government entities could have stepped in to “rescue” the Lethbridge Exhibition/Agriplex? Philanthropists like beloved/departed Cor Van Raay and/or others have in the past been supporters and ground breakers….. but I guess for now
, we are content with decisions “at the drop of the gavel” from our City Council, or are we really?

Montreal13

Excellent observations . Some on council now plan on running for mayor next time or so- scary. Like Mrs. Lethbridge?

HaroldP

Scary!

buckwheat

The comments below are pretty much what a business should do BEFORE you turn a shovel. Seems like the build it and you will come model was used here and few showed up. As to Councillor Crowson comments about support and financing Ex reminds me of a saying I saw a ways back from a Dakota Indigenous member.
If you’re riding a dead horse, it is time to get off the horse.
Same as at the Airport. Flair is not coming here. Find something else. Two days a week commuter to Great Falls or Kalispel for example. City will probably take that idea and buy an airplane.

Montreal13

Lethbridge councils often think this is Calgary. They get too big for their breeches. Power goes to their heads. Countless examples of this.
Thanks Buckwheat for your comments and knowledge.

Chmie

When government changes hands the incoming government is responsible for looking at all expenditures and projects within the control with a critical eye especially for projects of this magnitude. Not to do so is irresponsible and they must bare the responsibility of that oversight. We will be on the hook for this years and quit frankly our tax payer dollars is just that ours and cannot be used for whims and fluff. There r so many urgent problems in this city that need to be addressed it’s about time we had responsible government to do that!

Montreal13

Exactly Chmie.