By Janet Ballantyne
(Editor’s note) Coming from a politically active family, Janet Ballantyne is a west Rocky View resident who takes a keen interest in County politics.
This is an anxious time for supporters of the Cochrane and District Agricultural Society (CDAS).
Last January, Rocky View County started a process to sell the land occupied by the CDAS. A Request for Proposals soliciting possible offers of purchase closed earlier this month. We are all now awaiting news of the CDAS’s fate.
There are many questions Ag Society supporters would like answered. These include:
- Whether the County has received any offers to purchase the land that are sizable enough to finance a new home and replacement facilities for the Ag Society and its user groups?
- If such offers have been received, whether Council will deliver on its verbal commitments to the Ag Society and ensure that sufficient proceeds are earmarked to maintain the Ag Society?
- In the alternative scenario, if the County has not received adequate offers, will it now renew the CDAS lease for a meaningful length of time?
I understand that Rocky View County has to assess whatever responses it has received from its RFP process. I also understand that until that evaluation is complete, Rocky View cannot provide specific answers to these questions. However, knowing this does not alleviate the worry and concern shared by Ag Society supporters.
Many, if not most, of the fears of Ag Society supporters could be calmed if the County would simply put into writing the verbal assurances it has already given to the CDAS. This would not commit the County to selling or not selling the land. It would be a contingent commitment – if the County decides to sell the land, then it will allocate sufficient funds to relocate the Ag Society and its user groups onto suitable land with an appropriately long term lease, along with sufficient funds to fully replace its existing facilities.
Providing commitments in writing is a standard business practice. By not doing so, the County has left Ag Society supporters worrying about potential motives. If Rocky View administration does not believe it has the authority to do this on its own, then Council should be willing to provide the necessary guidance and authority.
Putting assurances into writing would not bind the County to sell the land.
What it would do, however, is very important. It would remove the fears that inevitably breed suspicions.
I certainly hope that these worries and suspicions are unfounded. I also hope that Council will be honourable in its dealings with the Ag Society. Assuming that Council intends to live up to these expectations, there should be no hesitancy to formalizing its assurances.
Until then, Ag Society supporters will have to rely on hopes and prayers that the CDAS will be able to continue providing the extraordinary recreational facilities highly valued by so many Rocky View residents and by people in the wider regional community.