Repairs urged at rodeo grounds

Supporters of the Summerland Rodeo Grounds are working to raise funds to improve the site.

Supporters of the Summerland Rodeo Grounds are working to raise funds to improve the site.

Members of the Summerland Rodeo Grounds Equine Development Committee say the facility was once a hub of activity hosting annual rodeos and numerous horse events and functions, but the venue is in need of some major repairs and upgrades.

Supporters of the grounds are working to raise funds and awareness to improve this site.

“The infrastructure is in great need of improvements,” said Liane Schild, a member of the committee.

John Gardner, vice-president of the committee, said footings are needed in the arena in order to be able to continue hosting horse-related events.

In order to implement other upgrades in the future, a perimeter fence has also been identified to protect future investments in the grounds. Some noted improvements are the concession and some cosmetic enhancements.

The grounds are owned by the municipality and managed through the parks and recreation department, in addition to numerous other parks and sports-related facilities around the community.

With the improvements, Summerland would be able to attract events to the grounds, Gardner said.

At present, there are horse-related events, a bluegrass jamboree and private functions booked at the grounds.

Committee members believe the grounds have more potential and could be used for more special activities if upgrades were completed.

The committee also envisions youth events at the grounds.

“We have this facility and it’s not being used to its potential,” Gardner said.

Schild said there are potential opportunities by working with the nearby Kettle Valley Steam Railway and the Trans-Canada Trail, which runs adjacent to the grounds.

Gwen Shaw, president of the committee, said the grounds can be used for many activities, not only equestrian events.

She believes the grounds should be developed and improved as a park setting.

Brenda Ingram, recreation manager for the municipality, said there are no specific plans for upgrades to the rodeo grounds at present.

Recent work at the grounds included upgrades to the bleachers.

Ingram said the municipality will look at its recreation master plan to determine its spending priorities for next year.

The Summerland Aquatic Centre and Summerland Arena have both required funding for upkeep and upgrades in recent years.

An assessment will be needed to determine the work necessary at the aquatic centre.

“We’re coming up to 39 years for the pool tank,” she said.

At the arena, the ice plant and the boards have been replaced in recent years.

Gardner estimates the upgrades to the rodeo grounds would cost around $250,000.

While some potential donors have already offered equipment and labour, money is needed as well.

The committee will hold a dance fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 9. Other fundraising activities are also in the works, Schild said.

In recent years, a number of horse-related fundraising events have been held at the grounds, including a Survivor-based horse challenge, the dancing Andalusian horses, the RCMP Musical Ride and horse shows where all money raised has been set aside for improvements and upgrades.

One project the committee has complete is the building of 12 covered stalls behind the grandstands.

Those interested in contributing to the rodeo grounds improvements are asked to contact Shaw at 250-494-8198 or email redbarnranchbb@shaw.ca.