Early last week, Grande Prairie County voted to approve $ 193,000 to cover payroll for the Evergreen Park administration through the end of the year.
Evergreen Park is partially owned by the county and operated by the Grande Prairie Regional Agricultural and Exhibition Society.
The county has been contributing to support Evergreen Park since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The park has also received other provincial and federal grants designed to compensate for lost revenue during the pandemic, such as the Municipal Operational Support Transfer (MOST).
Evergreen Park relies on the casino, event planning and horse racing for revenue, with the top three revenue streams seeing a total shutdown during the pandemic.
“With the pandemic and the fact that in 2021, casinos were closed for half the year, their sources of income were essentially depleted,” said Grande Prairie County Reeve Leanne Beaupre.
Beaupre says Evergreen Park tried to rotate during the pandemic to offer smaller events, but trying to balance the benefit of smaller events with the overall cost associated with holding events in the park was difficult.
“They have made great strides in the park in trying to be sustainable, but unfortunately, amid the aging infrastructure and the pandemic, they have not been able to meet their payroll requirements,” Beaupre said.
The total amount the county has spent from July through the end of this year on the park is $ 893,000.
Beaupre highlights the importance to the community of the multifaceted facility, which it says has a diverse role in the community as a venue for agricultural events, horse races and events like the Northern Spirit Light Show that begins this week.
“They may be third-party services for us, but they are extremely important because we don’t have to build the bricks and mortar ourselves,” Beaupre said, adding that “we don’t have to operate them ourselves and the ones that operate are extremely efficient and very concerned about the money they spend, ”said Beaupre.
“They are extremely important to Grande Prairie County because without those organizations, which are generally volunteer organizations, Grande Prairie County would have to have a larger workforce to operate or build some of these facilities that we support now,” said Beaupre. .
Beaupre says the county sees a much better 2022 for Evergreen Park as casino, horse racing and convention activities will resume normal operations over the next year.
“They have endorsed some of the previous events that they had in the past that were canceled due to the pandemic, and they hope to see 2022 and the end of 2021 as revenue generation,” Beaupre said.