Westerner Park is requesting an operating grant to help the organization continue its operations beyond August.
At their Wednesday meeting, city council will review the request for an operating grant of between $1 million and $3.5 million. City administration is recommending a $2-million operating grant, which should provide cash flow for Westerner Park until into 2021.
“As a pivotal community partner, this grant is the best option to ensure some sustainability at Westerner Park while they determine the full effects of COVID-19 on their operations,” said City Manager Allan Seabrooke.
Mike Olesen, chief executive officer of Westerner Park, said the money range of the operating grant is dependent on the expectation of when operations can return to normal.
“The minimum million assumes that it will be probably into that late November early December timeframe when we’re able to operate events at a material size again,” said Olesen.
“The extent of the three and a half assumes that COVID may impact us through for another year.”
Earlier this year, council approved a one-time emergency operating grant of $1 million for Westerner Park. The operating grant came with the stipulation that the city had financial oversight for when Westerner Park used any of the funds. Westerner Park has decreased operational costs through staff layoffs, temporary layoffs, and additional reductions in hours.
Olesen said without the financial assistance from the city, there is a possibility that Westerner Park could shut down.
“The worst case scenario is that our organization would unfortunately need to shut down, but that’s certainly not our goal,” said Olesen.
“If we’re unable to garner support from the City of Red Deer, we’ll need to explore some more extreme options.”
The city has asked a third party consultant to complete a forensic audit and financial sustainability project connected to Westerner Park’s financial situation. The audit is expected to be completed later this summer.