City council will reconsider a request from the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo for the use of city trucks and operating engineers at its next committee of the whole meeting on Mar. 12, after saying no to the request at an in-camera meeting held Feb. 26.
Since 2007, the city has supplied truck and operators to haul dirt into the arena prior to the rodeo, normally held during the third week of April, and in the past four years the city has hauled the dirt away afterwards.
The estimated cost to provide the service is $10,000, the city said. The organization requested help in a letter to mayor and council Dec. 4, 2012.
“This support helps our organization enormously and greatly helps to cut some of our high costs of putting on an indoor rodeo,” the letter noted, adding the rodeo normally attracts 5,000 plus people attending, competing and volunteering.
At the in-camera meeting council received a report from the city’s director of municipal services Kevin Goldfuss, who said the original agreement was to have contracted volunteers haul the dirt out of the arena, but that the city had to take that over when it became difficult to find contractor volunteers.
“The city had to pay city staff to do this work hand the cost to remove it in 2012 was approximately $6,000,” Goldfuss said, adding the total is $10,000 when the hauling in of the dirt is factored in.
Staff realized it would have to ask council for permission, he added.
Coun. Surinderpal Rathor said while he could not justify spending $10,000 of the city’s money on the indoor rodeo, he felt the item should be reconsidered because he had learned the association is willing to pay for half of the cost.
“I request that the report be taken back to a committee of the whole meeting,” Rathor said.
Coun. Laurie Walters agreed the request needs more consideration.
“I appreciated the report from staff. This information about costs is new to me as a councillor, but I can’t support the recommendation not to support it because of the value the indoor rodeo brings to the community,” Walters said. “I think there is a way we can work this out and change the direction to enable the city and the association to get together.”
Historically it was a volunteer effort, Coun. Sue Zacharias said. “Now there are costs coming into the city. I know corporations in town do work with other events such as the Stampede and will do an in-kind donation of goods or materials.”
Businesses used to do the work for the indoor rodeo, but when work “got slow” and businesses had to leave town to find work elsewhere, the volunteer and corporate support dwindled away, Zacharias suggested.
“I’m of the thinking that there are corporations out there that would volunteer material and time if they were asked.”
Council, consisting of acting mayor Danica Hughes, councillors Rathor, Walters and Zacharias voted in favour to reconsider the request and invite a delegation from the rodeo association to attend the committee of the whole meeting.