By Trevor Busch
The construction of an addition and other renovations planned for the Taber Agri-Plex by the Taber Exhibition Association has been approved by town council.
At their May 24 regular meeting, town council voted unanimously (6-0) to authorize a letter of support for the project for the TEA for the purpose of the association obtaining grant funding, and granted the TEA permission to begin the project. Coun. Jack Brewin was absent from the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, the Town of Taber received a letter from the Taber Exhibition Association requesting council consider the additional construction of a warm-up structure at the north end of the Agri-Plex building premises.
The building, located at 6602 53rd Street (Plan 8410163, Block 1, Lot 1) is owned by the town and leased to the TEA.
“What we’re finding is we use this Agri-Plex 10 months of the year, and the winter months, and there’s no place to tie your horses up, to warm up your horses,” said Sherry Crombez, representing the TEA. “Then in the summer we have 4-H and horse shows, and we’ve run out of room. If we built a warm-up pen, in the winter we are busy I’d say six days of the week. We have activities going all winter long. A lot of people come from out of town, and right now there’s nowhere — if we have a barrel race going on, or an activity in the arena — there’s nowhere for anybody to warm up their horses, or to tie them to cool down to go sit and watch.”
According to the TEA, the structure would have a multi-use purpose, including warm-up for horses during events, run through for barrel racers, stalling for day events, and stalling for the bull sale and the Taber and District 4-H Show and Sale.
“Magrath, Fort Macleod, Cardston, they all have these warm up pens built on the back to accommodate this. We’re thinking if we built this, not only would it be feasible, but it would help us compete with some of these other towns to bring events to Taber,” said Crombez.
In accordance with the current lease, Sec. 5, any improvements to the premises contemplated by the TEA must be approved in advance written notice by the town prior to any improvements being initiated, and those improvements will become the property of the town upon termination of the lease by either party, or following the expiration of the current agreement. The term of the current agreement is 35 years, from Nov. 1, 2005 to the Oct. 31, 2040.
“Just as long as everyone is aware of that, so that people don’t think we built that, so we’re going to dismantle that and put it somewhere else,” said Coun. Randy Sparks.
Crombez hoped to dispel any inaccurate information that might be circulating regarding the terms of the TEA’s lease of the facility.
“I do, because there was rumours flying around — people from the rural end built this place, so it belongs to them, they put the money up — all you have to do is look at our lease and see how it’s developed. It states in there, from day one when this was built in 1980, upon termination it becomes the Town of Taber’s. I think there was some rumours floating around, and people didn’t truly understand, and we’ve tried to put an end to it by saying, ‘Here’s a copy of the lease, it’s not something that we hid, read it. It says right there this is the intention’. It states right there, it’s very clear.”
The request has not been reviewed by the Taber Recreation Board, as it was “deemed not a change in use nor a new use recreational opportunity, but solely an expansion opportunity for the existing facility”.
“What this delegation is asking for is much needed at the Agri-Plex,” said Sparks.“You need a warm-up, cool down area there. It is needed as far as I’m concerned. I honestly believe that if you get one of those, you may get more people coming in and using your facility for barrel racing and all these kinds of things.”
The TEA would like to see construction of the proposed facility move forward as soon as possible in the fall of 2016, and intends to apply for grant funding to assist with the project.
Planned renovations also include applying tin to the west wall of the building to prevent further deterioration of the cinder block structure in that area.
“On the other side of this, we are looking for permission to do some renovations,” said Crombez. “The west wall of the Agri-Plex gets the sun and the wind, and because it’s cinder brick, it’s starting to wear. So what we wanted to do was tin-strap that west wall. We plan on applying for grants and funding it through our own association, so it can last another 25 years.”
According to administration, the facility would be upgraded by the addition by allowing better use of the facility and bringing more or different events to Taber. The TEA indicated the addition would be a 50’x122’x22’ mono-slope pre-engineered steel building, allowing for two overhead exterior doors and two man doors.
“There’s a lot of activity taking place, a lot of people from out of town are coming to compete,” said Mayor Henk DeVlieger. “Sometimes I drive through there myself, past all those horse pens just to see. There’s a lot of activity going on there the whole year, and I think we can be proud as a town that we have a facility like that. I will support doing this, because I can see that it’s needed. I understand, too, that west wall, the blocks are somehow disintegrating from the weather, and it would probably make it more comfortable inside, too, if you tinned that side. So I’m in favour of this myself.”