Airdrie and District Agricultural Society's $35M project on hold
Plans for Airdrie and District Agricultural Society’s new 150-acre park, located west of the city, are on hold for now.
The society’s board of directors received the completed sustainability evaluation study for the $35-million project earlier this month.
Businesses and local and provincial governments being considered to donate funds had concerns about the sustainability for the completed park, prompting the reportedly $70,000 study last year.
Brenda Moon, president of the society, wouldn’t comment on specifics, but said the study showed the project is not economically sustainable.
“The cost to build is something we would not be able to recover,” Moon said.
She said the study was based on the entire project, as laid out in the master site plan and not one specific area.
The consultants hired to create the report compared similar facilities to establish the current mark rates.
They spoke with 44 of 65 possible user groups including groups from the beef industry and recreational horse community to determine how much of the facility they may use. Construction and operation cost estimates used for the original business plan were also revisited and revised.
The balance between the estimated capital costs and revenue generated showed that the park likely wouldn’t provide a positive net over time.
Plans for the park, expected to be built in phases, included a 125-vehicle RV park, an agricultural-based commercial centre, stalls for up to 600 head of cattle, wetland and interpretive trails, an outdoor skating rink and 40 acres of native grassland, to be located just west of Airdrie in Rocky View County. Moon said the project is not off the table but it will not go ahead in its current form.
“We may have to reassess the plan … or change what we are doing,” she said, adding the society recently learned of the study’s results, organizers don’t yet have a timeline for moving forward.
She said the board of directors and society members will identify potential scenarios, define and prioritize them and decide which option may be most attractive. Recommendations will then be made to the board.
“We were disappointed,” said Moon in the results. “But we absolutely needed to know this.”