Cypress County council approved Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit’s motion to contribute a maximum of $20,000 to the Dunmore Equestrian Society to conduct a feasibility study for the proposed indoor riding arena at the July 31 regular council meeting.
“The idea of having the equestrian centre is something that sits well within the county,” said Kurpjuweit.
“But it also aligns with some of the strategic direction that the county is looking at going. We want to be able to support certain types of initiatives. In the situation like the equestrian centre, the opportunity for the county to potentially team up with them, whether it’s to provide community facilities, … or potentially acts as a draw to attract potential business and residents to the area, it was something that made sense for us at this point to make a small step.”
Rodeos, team roping and high school rodeo programs are all services that the equestrian centre is wanting to provide to those people who have a love for equine activities, he added.
“From a council’s perspective, we want to continue to acknowledge the fact that our foundation in the county is built on the influence of agriculture,” he said.
“The farming and ranching component has been huge part of who we are and will continue to be.”
The proposed indoor arena will be a facility that provides both the general public and non-profit organizations with recreation opportunities for specific equine events.
A proposed Gasoline Alley could also be an add-on to the indoor arena with a western theme and an extension to Dunmore’s Charles Street was listed in the report to council.
The Dunmore Equestrian Society has been working with Karen Blewett, a community officer with the province, to find a consultant to determine what kind of building will best fit the area, and what type of economic impact the facility will have on Cypress County.
“Ideally, we want someone with an agriculture background as well as marketing so they can give us better picture of what is feasible,” said the society’s treasurer Cathy Schnell.
“You have no idea how exciting it was. The $20,000 was really great. The fact that the vote was all in favour and none opposed was the exciting part to me because it means our vision matches their vision and I think we’re going to be really good partners.”
The equestrian society’s original contribution was $15,000 but will now will have to match the county’s maximum of $20,000.
The consultation cost is expected to come in at $40,000 and the organization will now know more after meeting with Blewett on Aug. 7.
Programming in the potential indoor arena could include space for the local school districts for a before and after school program for certified riding lessons as well as for the health system with equine therapy and for recreation opportunities for the county.
Schnell added the indoor arena would provide a comfortable environment for seniors from a nursing home and aboriginal groups, while 4-H groups can make a permanent home in the facility.