The La Glace and District Agricultural Society’s Growing Our Community farming initiative raised more than $66,000 for the community’s new arena and recreation centre.
A group of local farmers came together in a gargantuan effort to help the new recreational facility. Combines, trucks and time were donated to harvest the donated canola from 85 acres of land.
“We had to be innovative in being able to do something to help our cause,” said Karren Richards, organizer of the harvest and former ag society director.
The idea was first brought up approximately four years ago, she said.
It was suggested in an ag society meeting to contact farmers and see if someone would donate the crop and have farmers come out and help with all the stages of growing and harvesting, Richards said.
Donations have come in from businesses to support the harvest, too.
Canterra donated seeds, Farm Business Network chemicals, UFA donated 1,000 litres of fuel, Nutrien donated fertilizer, and local farmers brought two trucks and trailers to transport the canola. Three combines appeared to get it all into the trailers.
“We're really motivated to continue and finish the construction of the recreation facility,” said Jade Nyland, owner of the land of the donated crop. She is also an ag society board director.
As a farming community, Nyland said “what better way to fundraise for the construction and operations of our facilities than do this, and it provides a really cool opportunity for people to contribute in a different way.”
When asked before the harvest, Richards hoped to bring in between $35,000 to $40,000. She celebrated with a happy dance after hearing the official amount of money raised.
On March 30, County of Grande Prairie council directed administration to investigate a special tax, levy, or other options to fund the completion of the La Glace Recreational Centre. Still, the community has continued to ensure they have their needed space.
“It's the backbone of our community,” said Nyland.
Construction on the new arena started in 2017, she said.
Richards reports the cement work is done; the shell of the building is up and it’s ready for installation of an ice plant.
“If we had a (ice) plant and boards in there, we could have hockey nights,” said Richards.
Other fundraising efforts such as the Small Town Bringdown were cancelled due to the pandemic, she said.
In February the ag society had requested $6.8 million from the county to complete the arena.
The total cost of the project has yet to be determined. Explains Nyland, “Because we're non-profit and we do not have all the funds to get us right to completion it's difficult for us to have a solid price.”
Without a fixed contract the cost will continue to change, she said. The group has been working with available funds and then pause construction to begin fundraising again.
She estimates that about another $5 million will be needed to complete the project.
The full build would come at a cost between $6 million to $7.3 million, Nyland said.
“It's a huge undertaking for a little community and a group of volunteers and everyone is super dedicated,” said Nyland.
The county has contributed $3 million into the project, and province $500,000 from the community facility enhancement program.
Helping boost the bottom line are other grants along with corporate and private contributions.
Richards hopes to see the Growing Our Community program continue for years to come with different farmers volunteering each year.
This was the third year of the project. In the first year, they were snowed out and by spring, the crop had shelled and there wasn’t much left.
They grew barley in the second year and ended up with malt barley, which they hoped to use to make beer for concert fundraisers.
“If we look around the county, you'll find that a lot of older facilities are there, ageing, and it's going to be time for replacement soon, and I'm glad that we've started because pretty soon each one is going to have to be replaced because they don't last forever,” said Richards.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News