By Samantha Johnson
The UFA Rural Communities of Foundation (RCF) pledged to give $500,000 over five years to rural communities to help build sustainability.
The Foremost and District Agricultural Society was one of the recipients this year. “These projects are important and valuable to people who live in these communities,” said Mary MacArthur, RCF Coordinator.
The Foremost arena project received $28,980 from the RCF grant.
“Foremost is a bigger project, they are planning on building a massive indoor riding arena. They applied for overhead heating, sewer and water, that way when they make their architect plans they know they have the money for these,” continued MacArthur.
They are still fundraising for money and hope to start on the project next spring.
Stacey Barrows, Treasurer of the Foremost and District Agricultural Society said the UFA money will be used first for overhead heating and they were hoping to fit in water and sewage.
“We counted our overhead heating as number one to have the building open. We are waiting on whether we get the CFEP, Community Facility Enhancement Program.”
CFEP funding will assist in getting the building constructed and they are hoping to hear back in December. They had enough funding to construct a building with power, so when Barrows applied to UFA they thought their next phase would include heat and water.
“We have water, power and gas to the building but we only had enough funding to do power within the building,” said Barrows. “When I applied to UFA, I applied for our second phase of the project to put in the heat and water within the building.”
Getting the extra money will allow them to tender the project with heating and water in it and if they have to pull water out they can. There will be water outside the building regardless but doing the project all at once is usually cheaper than in stages.
The land title is now in the name of the Foremost and District Agricultural Society and as soon as they receive word on the CFEP grant it will be sent out to tender, either in January or February. They are looking at a start date for as soon as the ground thaws. Stage 1 budget for the building itself is $1.9 million and they need $2.6 million in order to get everything they want in the building. This was why they broke it down into stages because if they could get the building up and operational it can still be used with dirt on the ground.
“Our rodeo academy has taken off within the schools in Foremost,” continued Barrows. “We want the building up and operational so they can use it in the winter months, that would be ideal for them. Right now they can only use our outdoor riding arena.”
This year snow and winter came early and if spring is late in arriving, it curtails the amount of time the outdoor arena can be used. The Society is hoping to have an indoor facility they can start using in Fall of 2023.
“We jointly did this rodeo academy together, so we help them in anyway we can.”
The Society started raising money more than four years ago to build the indoor arena. They spent lots of time travelling to other arenas and looking at the pros and cons and talked to a few committees who had built arenas. One of the things they learned from visiting other arenas is how important outside drainage was and to ensure they had their slopes right as one arena had this struggle after it was built, resulting in ice near doors and in the parking lot in winter.
One committee they sat down with mentioned building in stages, they were 20 years in and are still adding on as they receive funds.
“That was a good lesson for us, that was when we decided it was time to break outs into stages because coming up with the $2.6 million is a long wait. When we started doing fundraising within out community we realized how much backing we had from our community and the biggest push was the land. When the land got donated (by a local farmer), I think that really kickstarted it and we got the support from the community,” stated Barrows.