Assiginack won’t partner with rodeo for grant

MANITOWANING—Assiginack council has decided to let the Manitoulin Rodeo committee go it alone when applying for funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, despite warnings from the funders that a standalone submission, without municipal backing, will likely be unsuccessful.

Sarah Hutchinson and Sylvia Moggy, members of the Manitoulin Rodeo committee, attended the meeting of Assiginack council last Tuesday evening prior to the March 1 deadline for submissions to Trillium. They were there to pitch to council the creation of a collaborative agreement between the rodeo committee and the municipality which, Ms. Hutchinson explained, would greatly improve their chances of being approved for funding.

The Manitoulin Rodeo is seeking funding for capital costs associated with the rodeo for such items as bleachers, a groomer, arena fencing as well as the operating costs.

Councillor Paul Moffat questioned why, if the rodeo company A-Bar-K Rodeo, supplies its own fence, the purchase of another fence is needed.

Ms. Hutchinson said the committee was told that council had discussed purchasing a new fence for the grounds and, she said, if the funds are available, why not purchase a multi-use fence that could be taken down and stored, as well as have Canadian Standards Association (CSA) ratings.

“Trillium has told us that if the town’s not going to take the lead (on the application), then this agreement (between the municipality and the rodeo committee) needs to happen to be successful,” Ms. Hutchinson said of the collaborative agreement.

Reeve Brad Ham said the municipality’s problem is “if we apply for this and we get it, we’re done (in terms of funding for other projects).”

Ms. Hutchinson responded that she questioned both Trillium and LAMBAC on this logic and said she has been told twice that this is not true—municipalities will not be turned down for funding because of having too many ‘irons in the fire.’

Ms. Hutchinson also requested from council that a five-year contract be signed between the two.

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“If we sign a five-year lease can you guarantee a five-year rodeo?” questioned clerk-treasurer Alton Hobbs.

“Absolutely not,” Ms. Hutchinson responded.

“I mean no disrespect, but what am I looking at?” the clerk asked. “If the Trillium application fails, will there be a rodeo?”

Ms. Hutchinson replied that at the committee’s last meeting it was decided that the decision to move forward on the rodeo would not be based on the outcome of the Trillium decision, but rather on sponsorships and advanced ticket sales.

Mr. Hobbs said that despite what the committee has been told by area funders, “this does affect the community capital funding for the next two to three years.” He added that the municipality has gone from agreeing to try an event to playing a larger role, which they aren’t comfortable with.

“By us asking funders for money, they will see this as our priority,” he continued, “and we do have a new events coordinator on staff. I feel like we’re being boxed into a corner.”

“I understand where you’re coming from, but it is in the community’s best interest to create a world class equestrian venue,” Ms. Hutchinson responded, referring to the bleachers, fencing and last year’s creation of a horse ring.

[box type=”info” align=”alignright” ][polldaddy poll=7832068][/box]Ms. Moggy added that it was her belief that regardless of who takes the reins, there will be a rodeo in the future.

Both Reeve Ham and Mr. Hobbs said that no one was disputing the benefits of the new additions to the fairgrounds.

“If you love the rodeo, and you really want to see it succeed, then we’re asking Assiginack to please take the lead,” Ms. Hutchinson said.

Following the February 18 meeting, The Expositor contacted Mr. Hobbs who explained that council had decided against naming themselves on the Trillium application, as well as against the creation of a collaborative agreement with the rodeo committee.

Upon hearing the news rodeo committee chair Kyla Jansen said the committee was feeling “very disappointed and let down.”

“It’s very hard to put on an event like this without municipal support,” she said, noting that the items applied for will be of benefit for the entire municipality, not just the rodeo.

Ms. Jansen said that the news from Assiginack also left her committee feeling “deflated.”

Alicia McCutcheon

Images of the 2013 Manitowaning Rodeo