July 14th, 2024

Council to meet about Exhibition funding situation


By Lethbridge Herald on December 14, 2023.

City council has scheduled a closed meeting on Monday regarding Lethbridge and District Exhibition's funding situation. Herald file photo

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

What’s next for the Lethbridge and District Exhibition?

With the province declining on Tuesday to provide emergency funding due to concerns about the business plan for the new Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre, all six motions passed by council on Nov. 28 are off the table.

Those motions included one calling for a third-party review of Exhibition operations and another that would have given the Exhibition one-time funding of $500,000 from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve to maintain the old pavilions.

Council had also agreed 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.

On Tuesday, Exhibition CEO Mike Warkentin told council in answer to a question that the City would be getting the first of those loan payments by today.

The Exhibition board, he also told council, was scheduled to meet yesterday. 

Warkentin said while the debt payment would be met, that “puts us into a dire financial situation going into the new year.”

Council will have a special meeting on Monday in its boardroom for a closed meeting about the Exhibition.

The agenda cites several Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act sections for keeping the discussion closed including No. 16 which states “disclosure would be harmful to the business interests of a third party.”

Section 21, which is also cited, says “disclosure of such information requires the consent of the Minister responsible for the FOIP Act,” while Section 23 “ permits a local public body to refuse to disclose information if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to reveal draft resolutions, bylaws and other instruments by which a local public body acts, or the substance of deliberations of an authorized in camera meeting of its elected officials, or its governing body or a committee of its governing body.”

Section 24, also cited, “recognizes that there is a public interest in not permitting unlimited access to records relating to policy development and decision making in public bodies. It recognizes that there must be candid discussions, deliberations and the like so as not to impair the workings of public bodies.” 

And lastly Section 25 “requires the head of a public body to disclose information relating to a risk of significant harm to people or the environment, or where disclosure is clearly in the public interest.”

The province, in a letter to mayor Blaine Hyggen Tuesday afternoon, said in response to a request that it equally share the cost of a grant of more than $2 million to the Exhibition, “based on the city resolution on November 28, the original request for $1,040,546 in matching capital funding by December 11, 2023 was carefully considered. The Ministry also notes the assessment by the City that a larger financial shortfall exists that would require further funding to ensure the Agri-Food Hub can continue to operate based on the current business plan. Because the viability of the current business plan is in doubt, the province declines to provide the requested $1,040,546.50 to the city.”

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Citi Zen

Why won’t the City seek out a corporate sponsor to run the place, such as CocaCola, FritoLay, or some such? Fire the board, find competent people to oversee it. Why should the taxpayer cover this expense??!

buckwheat

THree days ago I said to many, we are going to get FOIP’D. Voila. Get ready to get your wallet tuned up to cover the losses.