City of Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb (right) presents a cheque for $7,500 to Williams Lake Stampede Association president Court Smith from the city's portion of the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant for local governments. The $7,500 was part of a $15,000 grant split equally between the WLSA and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake Stampede Association given $7,500 as part of COVID-19 restart, rodeo on hold

Other events in the works

Facing the likelihood of another cancelled Williams Lake Stampede, the association’s president said he was thrilled to receive some financial support from the city Thursday, Feb. 4.

“It’s totally unexpected,” said Williams Lake Stampede Association (WLSA) president Court Smith, who accepted a cheque for $7,500 from Mayor Walt Cobb through the city’s COVID-19 safe restart grant.

Smith said the WLSA will use the money to repair extensive damage to office equipment and broken windows, as well as having to hire professional sanitizing services, for its campground office after two individuals broke in and occupied the building just prior to Christmas.

At the time the damage was realized by Stampede Campground director Al Smith, Court said the suspects had completely ransacked the log building.

“We’re not sure whether the floor will need to be replaced yet, also, but $7,500 to reopen the campground office is fabulous, and we’re excited,” Court said, noting the 2021 Williams Lake Stampede will likely not be happening due to the ongoing pandemic, causing the association to rely even more heavily on its campground for revenue.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said the city is happy to be able to help out community groups through the safe restart grant for local governments.

“They help out our community in many ways,” Cobb said of the Stampede association.

READ MORE: Stampede, rotary drive-thru community breakfast appreciated

Court said planning for the annual Williams Lake Stampede is a 12-month organizational effort, and with so many unknowns currently surrounding large gatherings, this year’s event likely won’t be possible.

For 2020, the WLSA hosted two drive-thru pancake breakfasts alongside the Rotary Club of Williams Lake, plus a rib dinner.

“We’re definitely going to do something [in lieu of the Stampede],” Court said. “We had a lot of fun with the drive-thru pancake breakfasts, so we’re looking at a few different opportunities.”

Court said, financially, the WLSA is in a solid position moving forward as its campground was able to generate good income last spring and summer.

“That definitely helped to sustain us at a level we feel comfortable with, but we have to watch our expenses,” Court said.

The WLSA budgets for roughly $800,000 annually, and brings in around $3 million in spinoffs to the local economy each year.

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The Williams Lake Stampede Campground office was broken into and vandalized just prior to Christmas. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Williams Lake Stampede Campground office was broken into and vandalized just prior to Christmas. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)