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Evergreen Park again seeking support from city

Evergreen Park representatives appeared before city council Monday night looking for financial support. Their request was identical to one made last year by the organization, which was denied in this year’s budget.

General Manager Dan Gorman, along with board members Rob Clayton and Shelly Lazinby, told councillors 500,000 people attended the park in 2017 for more than than 1200 events were held. They ranged from trade shows and conferences to weddings and graduations. The facility also hosts multiple fundraising events through out the year and have helped local charities raise more than $1.5 million.

Evergreen Park is returning to the city looking for $200,000 to help cover operational expenses. Gorman says while 2017 has been a good year for them, they are still digging out after having to come up with funds to match three grants that were approved in 2016.

“Running a facility like Evergreen Park will always incur a great deal of costs to maintain, and we’re just hopeful that the city will find the way to give us some support in that area.”

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The delegation also highlighted the impact the facility has on the local economy, saying that initial spending impacts are expected to total nearly $19 million dollars this year. That includes spending on things like accommodations, transportation as well as the money that is spent at local stores and businesses.

They also say that the economic spin off overall, including jobs generated locally, is over $43 million annually. Gorman adds that over the past five years they have had great success in paying down their long term debt.

“It is our intent to continue to do so and at that time the end of that five years, yes, we are very, very hopeful that we will be less reliant on other people’s operational support.”

The idea for a transportation agreement was also brought to council. Gorman says he is hopeful they can work something out because it would be in both their interests.

“We don’t have hotels out at Evergreen Park we have a lot of events and the people stay in Grande Prairie. It would be nice to be able to have them have another alternative for transportation back and forth.”

Gorman says while there are no plans to develop a hotel at this point, they have a very “progressive and forward thinking” board who, he says, would be very open to the idea if someone came forward with “plans and the resources to do it.” The funding request was put over to this year’s budget deliberations, which begin on November 15.

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