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City Council responds to request from Lethbridge & District Exhibition

Today, Lethbridge City Council approved initial steps that would pave a new path forward for Lethbridge & District Exhibition and the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre. In response to a letter of intent received from the Lethbridge & District Exhibition, City Council passed a resolution that will provide emergency interim resourcing to create stability and business continuity and explore a vision for the future.

“This is not a position we ever wanted to be in,” says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. “But the reality is, this organization is in financial trouble and change is needed. I am extremely proud of how City Council and administration have come together to take a leadership role in this change and work with the Lethbridge & District Exhibition to make that happen. We want to reassure the community, and those who have invested in this facility, that the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre remains open for business.”

Today, Council put in motion some important transformations that will ensure the clarity and information needed is available to inform good decision making. It will also provide transparency to the community regarding how public dollars are being spent.

The approved Council resolution established the following directions:

  • Emergency operating grant to the Lethbridge & District Exhibition of $250,000 allocated immediately.
    • The City will also set aside up to $950,000 in contingency, held under City control, for verified emergent needs.
    • This one-time funding is from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR) ​
  • Independent third-party review of the Lethbridge & District Exhibition
    • Regular reporting to Economic & Finance Standing Policy Committee (SPC)
    • Phase 1 report to be presented at the November 14, 2024 Economic & Finance SPC.
    • Administration to provide regular reports on any critical findings to Economic & Finance SPC as they occur.​
    • Funding of up to $300,000 from the existing 2023-2026 Operating Budget
    • Funding of $850,000 for contract or term positions to support backfill of key City resources. This will be one-time MRSR funding.
  • Interim governance body implemented, excluding any previous board members, to ensure a clean slate. The new governance body will be comprised of:
    • Administrative staff from the City of Lethbridge
    • Administrative staff from Lethbridge County (pending acceptance from Lethbridge County Council)
  • Memorandum of Understanding to be developed between the City and Lethbridge & District Exhibition based on the recommendations contained within the letter of intent​, no later than January 19, 2024 subject City Council approval at the January 23 Council meeting.

The City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge & District Exhibition have a long-standing relationship dating back to the early 1900s.

“There have been several points in our history where the City has provided support to the Exhibition,” says Councillor Belinda Crowson. “We have always found a way to work through it, for the benefit of our community, and I am confident this time will be no different.”

Lethbridge & District Exhibition appeared before City Council on November 28, asking for $6.7 million in emergency funding and the immediate takeover of the old pavilions (excluding the West Pavilion). The organization cited the impact of inflation, interest rates, supply chain issues and other lingering COVID-19 impacts as causes of the budget shortfalls. Additional capital costs, as well as the expense of maintaining the old pavilions, has depleted the Exhibition’s reserves which means they would be unable to move forward without additional financial support.

The City owns the land that the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is located on and contributed $25 million toward the construction of the facility which began in March 2021.

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