Heather Philpott (centre) addresses the public at a meeting called by Ashcroft Council to hear public opinion on the Rodeo Association’s relocation plans for the Ashcroft Rodeo Grounds.

Public opinion split on rodeo relocation

Over 80 people attended the meeting at the Ashcroft Community Hall. Everyone was in favour of the rodeo, but relocating to the mesa...?

More than 80 Ashcroft residents gathered in the community hall last week to voice their feelings on the Rodeo Association’s proposal to relocate their grounds to the mesa in an area known as “the Dunes.”

Twenty-six people spoke as Mayor and Council sat silently and listened.

Thirteen speakers were of the opinion that the Village should accommodate the rodeo and work through any problems that might arise with insurance, dust, traffic or noise.

“I’ve lived in Ashcroft 49 years,” said Loraine Shwaluk. “If we don’t keep the rodeo in Ashcroft, we lose not just a fun filled weekend, but an activity that draws people into town.”

“I live a block from the current grounds,” said Vivian Edwards. “I miss the rodeo. I miss the cheering. I even miss the smell of the livestock.” She urged the village to help the rodeo relocate for the sake of the town’s western heritage.

“Any traffic would be going past my house, and I don’t care,” said Pamela Ainge. She said the dust and wind would be on the mesa regardless of whether there was a rodeo.

Sonja Matthews felt the village couldn’t spare any residential land for the rodeo because an expansion at Ashcroft Terminal would require more housing for the workers.

“The real issue is liability and risk,” said Pache Denis. “The village needs to consider the long term impact.”

Doreen Handley was concerned that the rodeo would destroy the desert around it. She said the mesa wasn’t designed for a large amount of traffic and worried that emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to move freely. “I’m not against the rodeo,” she said, “but it’s unacceptable in a residential area.”

“I hate to see us lose the rodeo,” said Ron Hood. “It’s very valuable to the community. He urged council to think outside of the box and consider multi-use facilities in the future rather than single-use that sit empty for much of the year.

Council has yet to make a decision on the relocation proposal.

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