Jumping the gun on the rodeo grounds
Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 06:00 am
I am alarmed by recent public remarks by our mayor last week to the Chamber of Commerce where he reportedly stated that negotiations have been underway with the Lions Club to renew their lease on both the old curling rink and the rodeo grounds.
This comes as a complete surprise since my sources on council indicate that no firm decisions will be made until the proposed Task Force study is completed along with recommendations on the best use of all the lands now owned by the town.
The mayor talked about quelling rumours about the disposition of these valuable town lands. However, it serves no purpose to raise expectations and making sidebar commitments to special interest groups until the report and public engagement is completed.
Has our mayor also held concurrent discussions with the Rocky View Housing Foundation who are apparently looking at relocating the Big Hill Lodge to a more central location? Shouldnít that option be also considered as we look at the big picture going forward?
Itís interesting that our mayor, during the recent election campaign, was the most vocal in promoting the need for greater public engagement on key policy issues affecting our community. The apparent premature move to enter into another long-term lease with the Lions Club at this point seems very contrary to the objective of seeking broad public input and consensus before any decisions are made. We really canít have it both ways in my opinion.
Letís step back and recognize that the upper and lower bench lands are currently worth millions of dollars. When the current rodeo facilities were built and located at their present site in 1966, one has to assume there were no competing uses for the land and it made sense to have a rodeo centrally located Ė we are no longer that same small rural town.
In the meantime, our economic development priorities and needs have shifted dramatically along with a rapidly growing population that now exceeds 27,000 including a large segment of seniors who will be seeking more affordable housing in the future.
The bottom line in this important exercise is not whether we like bull riding or whether we are dedicated members of a particular service club, it has to be about how we develop an acceptable and broadly supported plan for these valuable town properties, which recognizes and supports the greater public good in our community.
So letís get the ball rolling, create a community-based Task Force to study all the options and await its recommendations before any further public pronouncements or commitments are made by members of council, town administration or the mayor.