April 18th, 2024

New board and executive looking to create a more sustainable future for Exhibition

By Lethbridge Herald on February 14, 2024.

The Lethbridge & District Exhibition has appointed a new board of directors, a move that was outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in late January.  Herald photo by Theodora MacLeod

Theodora MacLeod – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The saga of the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre may finally be nearing a conclusion after months of negotiation.

After receiving approval from the Government of Alberta and Lethbridge City Council, the Lethbridge & District Exhibition (LDE) has appointed a new board of directors, a move that was outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in late January. 

The 288,000-square-foot facility began construction in March 2021 and opened its doors in August 2023 for Whoop-Up Days, but by November 2023, projecting a financial deficit for the next three to four years, former chief executive officer Mike Warkentin stood before city councillors asking them to take immediate possession of the Exhibition space and provide emergency financial relief. 

The MOU allowed for structural changes to the governance and following the resignation of all members of the now former LDE board, a new board of directors has taken the reigns.

Beginning the transition last week, the newly appointed LDE board is co-chaired by City Manager Lloyd Brierley, and Cole Beck of Lethbridge County. Joining them as vice-chairs are Carly Kleisinger with the City and Jennifer Place with the County. Other board members comprise Brian Loewen, Jason Elliott, Travis Hillier, Darrell Mathews, and Nicole Mitton. 

“This week was the first meeting of the new board, and part of that is actually developing the framework for all of the plans and things to come over the next number of months,” says Brierley. 

Acknowledging the former board, Brierley said in a release from the City, the implementation of the changes allows the new board to look toward the future.

“Our focus for the next year will be on finding the best ways to reduce the gap between the operating budget required and revenues coming in so we can create a more sustainable future for Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre.” 

From the city perspective, Brierley says there will be a study of the third-party review to help better understand how the situation unfolded and whether it differs from what is currently understood. The findings of the review will feed into future plans and if there are changes required in terms of building and operations. 

Brierley says the board will look into the current structure, and focus on revenue generation, as well as expense management to reduce the financial pressure and bring the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre into better standing. 

In addition to the new board of directors, the LDE welcomes Kim Gallucci as acting CEO. Gallucci will take a leave from his role as general manager of the Enmax Centre for the next year and join in supporting the operations of the facility. 

Along with the changes in leadership and management, a shareholder redemption process is underway. The City of Lethbridge is now the sole voting shareholder of the LDE, and the refunding of all share costs to former shareholders is expected to be completed by the end of the month. 

Co-chair Cole Beck says scheduled events should be unaffected by the changes in leadership.

“One of our primary goals with this transition is to ensure the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre maintains its business continuity,” he said. “We want the community, the region, and the province to know that we are open for business, and the excitement of a sold-out Ag Expo, in just a couple of weeks, is a great way to demonstrate that.”

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very interesting stupidity on part of City council and burden dumped o taxpayer, read the City council approved a $8 million start up debr borrowing plus interest total $2,142,743.40,toal bill $10,142,743.40, the bylaw 6244 statement item “4 reads The municipality shall levy and raise in each year municipal taxes sufficient to pay the indeptedness.endquote Do you the taxpayer appreciate the council method of taxation there was no proper notice of bylaw in news paper to the citizen you could of had 20 days to object. Why should the taxpayer pay the bill This is how this council does business., What is your response