Community rallies for M.L. stampede grounds

By Kathy Gallant
April 18, 2018 - 2:11pm

A community meeting brought people together to have their say about Meadow Lake’s historical stampede grounds and grandstands, and it seems many want to see the facility stick around.

Almost 150 people from the city, rural municipality and surrounding area filled the Meadow Lake Civic Centre for a presentation and open discussion about the future of the longstanding local facility.

The event was hosted by the City of Meadow Lake, and mayor and council were in attendance to listen to what people had to say. During the first portion the meeting, city manager Diana Burton presented facts about the current state of the aging grandstands structure and the results of the survey which ran from January to March.

As an insurance measure, biennial engineering assessments have been required. To replace several beams in 2015, it cost $36,000 and the estimate in 2017-2018 was over $115,000.  Replacing the entire area, including the grandstands, fence, track and concession booth could cost anywhere from $805,000 to $1.83 million.

A few concerns, suggestions and questions came up throughout the evening, including fundraising tactics, an economic feasibility study, ideas for replacement including a facility with a roof, encouraging volunteer labour and workbees. Members of the Lions Club, stampede association, agricultural society, and the Prairie Forest Equestrian club also attended the meeting.

Kelly Friedrich, a member of the equestrian club, talked about how much of Meadow Lake and area’s identity were rooted in ranching and horses.

Dustin Gorst, a current World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) driver from the area spoke up and said if the people of the area want to save the stampede grounds, they shouldn’t rely on the work of city council. He suggested a committee be formed and work to come up with a plan, fundraising, and work on gaining corporate sponsorship.

“[The] backbone of our town has always been hockey, chuckwagons and rodeo, and it’s something we should be proud of,” Gorst said. “It shouldn’t be up to the [city council] to do it all. We can ask them for help, but a group has to be formed. From today, hopefully we can get that going.”

He said he could help arrange a WPCA fundraising event for this coming summer as well.

Coun. Curtis Paylor said when people come together, positive things can happen. Before becoming a part of council, he was involved in the former Meadow Lake Stampeders hockey club, and there was a committee to help raise money for a $500,000 dressing room.

“I think you’ve got the right thinking right now, getting people to sign up and have some steering committees formed,” he said. “I suggest you come in writing to council in the next month or two and get some meetings going. Thanks to a committee and executive we got that dressing room built. The senior ball diamond was upgraded, that came from a group of players taking that on. If this is what you want to see, really get behind it and go for it. We don’t have any other plans for that land… We’d love to see the tradition continue in Meadow Lake.”

A group of community members will be meeting at the Lion’s Den on Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m. for the beginning of talks on the matter.

 

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