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La Glace Agricultural Society hoping for loan from County of Grande Prairie

The La Glace and District Agricultural Society is looking for financial help from the County of Grande Prairie to finish the construction of the new La Glace Regional Recreation Centre. The Society approached council on Monday, seeking a loan of roughly $6.8 million to fund the third stage of construction. Council voted five to four in favour of electing to consult an independent and verify the costs of seeing the facility to completion.

Director and head of the construction committee Tamara Lunde says completing the facility will be a major step in the right direction both for the society, as well as the county.

“We need to get this facility done to generate revenue, support residents, foster a healthy community and attract investment and development in Division 8,” she says. “We’ve worked extremely hard throughout the three years we’ve been building this… we’ve done incredible things for the surrounding community while trying to utilize what we created.”

Completion of the third stage would bring the building to a fully operational status. Phase one of the new facility cost just shy of $2.7 million, and phase two was just over $2.2 million. The Agricultural Society is estimating the final project tender to be between $11.2 and $11.7 million.

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As of the completion of stage two, Lunde describes the facility as essentially a building shell with doors, windows, and a concrete foundation slab.

“Basically you got four walls and a concrete slab in the building right now,” she explains.

As the facility isn’t yet open, the Agricultural Society is currently on the hook for the expenses incurred from both the old and new facilities. It adds the third and final phase cannot be broken into smaller sub-phases to reduce the cost or extend the time frame for completion.

At the county meeting, Councillor Corey Beck questioned the viability of a loan to the society, noting they hadn’t presented a feasible repayment time frame.

“Looking at the numbers that I see, I just don’t see how even over a 50-year term, you guys, with the cashflow that you create, would be able to cover this, an additional $6.8 million, considering that you already have other operational expenses that are there,” he says. “I have concerns with how this would be proposed because I don’t know how it’s even feasible that you would be able to pay this back.”

Out of the $6.8 million ask from the society to the county, $175,000 has been earmarked for the demolition of the old facility, which is described as “inefficient,” and “decrepit.”

County council was presented with three options. The first is to direct administration to work with the county’s finance department and the agricultural society to bring back details on a draft lending agreement for phase three and the financial impact to the County on November 30th. The second is to direct administration to engage an independent engineer or architect to verify the scope and costs of completing phase three and provide alternative recommendations, using what’s left of the agricultural society’s 2020 Professional Evaluation Funds, and the third suggests the County recommend the agricultural society seek other sources of funding to complete the project.

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