The MD of Foothills is working with an agricultural society to improve the internal road at the Millarville racetrack, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area.
Foothills councillors voted on Feb. 21 to write a letter of support for the Millarville Agriculture Society for a $25,000 provincial grant to improve the inside roadway at the racetrack and grounds just north of the hamlet.
Further details on how the road will be improved, such as which surface, will be discussed at a later meeting.
The total cost for the road improvement is estimated at $75,000. The MD would chip in approximately $50,000 with work and some materials, and the grant would cover the remaining cost.
Division 3 Coun. Jason Parker, who represents the Millarville area, said the MD of Foothills has spent approximately $10,000 a year on dust control for the gravel road at the Millarville racetrack.
“I have kind of estimated that if we didn’t have any high-water events, if we put a chip seal through we would looking at having a much longer lifespan of seven to 10 years,” Parker told councillors. “It would be a wash or even a cost-savings potentially.”
With the ag society pitching in funds through the grant application, he said the organization “has skin in the game.”
“They aren’t getting a full ride, they are having to raise money for it and it will also save the MD about $25,000 long-term,” said Parker.
He said more than 125,000 people visit the grounds annually. Events at the site include the Millarville Farmers’ Market, the Canada Day horse races and the annual Christmas market.
Parker added the Millarville Ag Society has dug itself out of a $300,000 debt. Some of the unique fundraisers include the popular Run to the Farmers’ Market in June, which has approximately 1,000 participants.
Councillors RD McHugh and Rob Siewert both expressed concerns about the MD treating other agriculture societies in the area equitably.
MD CAO Harry Riva-Cambrin said there is no set formula for how the municipality provides financial help to ag societies for projects. In the past the MD has helped with the building of the Blackie Arena, which was an ag society project. Along with the Town of High River, the MD helped build the grandstands at the High River Ag Society rodeo grounds.
“There really has been no magic to that, it’s council’s decision on an individual case-by-case,” Riva-Cambrin said.
MD Reeve Larry Spilak said the Millarville market helps brings people to the community and that many of the merchants at the Christmas and farmers’ market live in the MD of Foothills.
The motion to support the ag society was passed enabling for the grant application to proceed with the endorsement of the MD.