February 25th, 2024

Exhibition CEO to address SPC


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 7, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber The Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre will be the focus of a presentation by CEO Mike Warkentin at today's meeting of the Assets and Infrastructure Standing Policy committee of city council. The meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

A submission by Lethbridge and District Exhibition chief executive officer Mike Warkentin will be on today’s agenda of the Assets and Infrastructure Standing Policy Committee meeting of Lethbridge city council.

The SPC will meet at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers. It consists of Deputy Mayor Mark Campbell and councillors Jeff Carlson, Nick Paladino and Ryan Parker.

Warkentin was at the last meeting of city council, requesting emergency funding for the new Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre. Council approved several motions, one of which is contingent upon the province agreeing to provide some funding by Monday, the day before council’s next meeting.

If council gets provincial support by Monday, it will provide a capital grant of $2,081,093 – of which $1,040,545.50 is to be given to the City by the province – to the Exhibition to cover the capital shortfall “with the funding to be held in reserve and which can be assessed by the Lethbridge & District Exhibition upon their submitting claims for eligible expenditures for the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre project with funding being provided subject to the amendment of the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre Project grant agreement in a form satisfactory to the City Manager.

Council also agreed to provide the Exhibition with $500,000 for maintaining the old pavilions with the City’s contribution with one-time funding from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve for which the Exhibition will be required to submit eligible expenditures for the old pavilions with funding subject to the execution of a contribution agreement in a form satisfactory to the City Manager.

Council voted in favour of a motion to defer two of the Exhibition’s semi-annual loan payments of $583,913.59 for the period of Dec. 15 of this year ending on June 15 of 2024 by adding two payments on Dec. 15, 2052 and June 15, 2053 plus accrued interest based on the City’s 10-year investment portfolio at the time of deferral, to the development loan agreement between the City and Exhibition with interim of funding of $1,167,827.18 – divided into two payments of $583,913.59 – coming from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve.

And council passed by an 8-1 vote a motion calling for the City Manager to retain and work with an independent third party to obtain the information necessary to evaluate and provide recommendations on the strategic and operational planning as well as the financial decision-making of the Exhibition to support its ongoing success.

Two Powerpoint presentations are on the agenda for Warkentin’s submission today. Both were discussed during the last council meeting.

One of the presentations show there are more than $31.3 million in costs below the surface of the Exhibition’s request. Among those costs are $11.3 million for demolishing or repurposing the old pavilions, a loss of $3.79 million in investment income over 30 years and $15.71 million in parking lot refurbishment.

The Exhibition has asked the City to immediately take over the old pavilions which would shift annual operating costs of between $320,000-$500,000 to the City which will also have to incur the costs of their demolition or repurposing.

Also on the agenda is an update by Mandi Parker, general manager of Waste and Environment on the toxic and e-waste pilot project.

The goal of the project, which had a net cost of $73,400 after grants were applied, was to provide an accessible means for city residents to collect and safely remove their hazardous household waste and e-waste from the municipal solid waste stream.

The SPC will be told a recommended option from the City is to continue the program in 2024 with a re-assessment of it and the program’s budget in 2025.

Parker’s presentation says while the City does have a permanent location to drop off waste, if pop-up collection services aren’t offered, there’s a chance these types of waste will end up in the landfill or won’t be properly diverted.

Senior community planner Ross Kilgour will address the SCP on the City’s land use bylaw renewal project while transportation engineer Adam St. Amant will provide a report on the 2023 Transportation master plan.

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