By Justin Seward
The reality of landing an indoor equestrian arena may have gotten one step closer for the Dunmore Equestrian Society after the feasibility study results were presented on March 5 at an open house in Dunmore at Safety Buzz.
RC Strategies was hired last fall by the society in conjunction with Cypress County to conduct a feasibility study which included a survey that had 209 responses, 30 discussion sessions with different stakeholders and observing trends such as market analysis to determine what kind of economic benefits the facility would have.
“The conclusion from that is the facility has a case for viability but it’s likely going to need some additional support operationally,” said Stephen Slawuta, who spearheaded the process for RC Strategies.
“Whether that comes from the county, partners or a combination of organizations, just because our operational model showed there isn’t a lot of room for error there. We projected it could break even with a little bit of net revenue. Our recommendation in the end is to have further discussion with potential partners.”
Residents in Dunmore and the southern part of Medicine Hat received a postcard that had questions
on whether they would support a facility, what type of activities would they do in the indoor arena and what use for the facility would be.
In the key findings of the survey, 85 per cent of the respondents said the top benefit would be providing an affordable and accessible space for residents to participate in equestrian and agriculture events, 65 per cent said their households would use the facility if one were to be developed and 84 per cent would be support an indoor arena being built.
“The survey showed a high level of support,” he said.
“Between two-thirds and three-quarters indicated they would support a new facility and they would use it which is really important.”
Dunmore Equestrian Society’s board member Justin Kraft says they’re happy with the community support that the organization has received.
“We understand the challenges of building a sustainable operation out there,” said Kraft.
“That’s one of the things we’re focused on the most is to insure when we have a facility out there, that is it at least sustainable for the ag or a recreation facility.”
Now the equestrian society is looking for corporate and municipal partners to help decisions moving forward with the process, he added.
Cypress County council sat in on the presentation at their Tuesday regular meeting and while it is a step forward, there needs to be more communication with details as to how the partnership will now work.
“There appears to be a strong sense of buy in when it comes down to members of the community both in the county as well as the city,” said Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit.
“I think the amount of people that surveyed, they feel it’s a good idea. We liked the fact that the consulting firm came at it from a very realistic approach on the viability and the numbers.
“A development like this would likely need to come with some form of partnership with the municipal government. There is the potential if this thing moves forward that there would need a partnership like that formed to ensure that we cover the bills.”