As a hub for central Albertans to gather and celebrate community events, Westerner Park is a non-profit organization and agriculture society that serves the community in a number of ways. From concerts and trades shows, weddings and banquets, hockey games and agricultural events, Westerner Park drives over $150 million of regional economic activity. At this time, the organization is further impacted by the restrictions of events, including sporting events, festivals and mass gatherings related to COVID-19.
Updates / News
- Council received a report outlining the results of a forensic audit of Westerner Park’s finances. The audit identified key areas that contributed to the financial difficulties at Westerner Park. Broadly, the findings are related to the financial and business decisions surrounding the expansion of exhibition hall; inaccurate revenue projections for CFR; deficiencies in financial controls and processes; lack of qualified finance staff; and a failure to market the new exhibition hall appropriately. The audit found no evidence of misappropriation for fraud.
- The International Ice Hockey Federation, along with Hockey Canada and the Red Deer Rebels, announced that the 2020/2021 World Junior Hockey Championship would not be held in Red Deer, due to COVID-19. It is anticipated it will be held partially in Red Deer in 2021/2022.
- September 25, 2020 - Westerner Park forensic audit results to be presented
- City Council approved a $2 million operating grant to Westerner Park for continued operations into the fall of 2020. The funding will only be accessed by Westerner Park, if required, based on continued oversight of cash flow and is expected to allow operations to continue into 2021.
- July 8, 2020 - City Council provides $2 million in grant funding to Westerner Park
- July 6, 2020 - To continue operations, Westerner Park requests financial support from The City
- A third party contracted by The City, commenced a forensic audit and financial sustainability project regarding Westerner Park’s financial situation.
- Westerner Park, along with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, announced the cancellation of the 2020 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.
- Following the guidelines set out by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Westerner Park cancelled Westerner Days for 2020.
- In response to COVID-19 and the financial impact to operations, Westerner Park temporarily laid off approximately 90 per cent of the remaining Westerner Park staff. Currently, 16 employees, many with reduced hours, are working at Westerner Park.
- City Council approved one-time emergency operating grant of $1 million to support the continued short-term operation of Westerner Park. This was dealt with in camera, at that time, due to legal considerations. The City applied terms and conditions for the use of this grant, including financial oversight for when Westerner Park utilized any of the funds.
- The City temporarily removed Council representation from the Westerner Board; however, maintains representation through an administrative liaison.
- Westerner Park laid off 14 full-time equivalent and 24 part-time and casual Westerner Park staff. A number of other staff saw a reduction in hours and benefits.
- City Council provided direction (in camera) to City Administration to manage and stabilize Westerner Park. This resulted in The City assuming temporary financial oversight of Westerner Park.
- The City held a joint media conference with Westerner Park to communicate the financial situation at Westerner Park and that The City was assuming financial oversight of Westerner Park.
- January 28, 2020 - Westerner Park and City work together to ensure financial stability
- Westerner Park informed The City of its fiscal challenges and reached out to The City for assistance.