The Cochrane RancheHouse event centre was set to have its best summer in years until the onset of COVID-19.

Now, if all events remain cancelled for the balance of the year, a $550,000 loss in revenue is anticipated, RancheHouse manager Kristie Bell told town council.

For the first time in four years, the RancheHouse had over 50 weddings book. Now all but 11 have been rebooked or cancelled. Only two have been held.

Bell says the good news is love has not been cancelled, it has been postponed. Twenty-nine have been rebooked for 2021 and a total of 51 are on the books for that year. Inquiries have also begun for 2022.

"We were looking forward to an amazing year," Bell told council. "It's definitely been a tough one for my team as we had achieved 52 weddings on the books for this season, which is a massive increase over the last few years."

In 2017, there were just over 20 weddings held at the RancheHouse, and it has been steadily rebuilding since.

Bert Sheppard Stockmen's Foundation Library and Footsteps and Learning Place preschools, all located in the RancheHouse remain close. Leaseholder payments have been paused.

The RancheHouse has found savings, she said. It has cut its staff in half and expenses will be lessened by the wedding cancellations, programming changes, and lower energy consumption.

It has also redeployed some of its staff to assist town administration and to assist with the food hamper delivery program. 

Bell says they are exploring opportunities to host smaller events, offering virtual event support, and developing strategies to market the 2021 shoulder season.

The department also oversees town community events, programs, and culture, and are part of their budget. 

Those, too, have been heavily impacted, leading to several to being converted into virtual activities or cancelled.

The department appeared to be on budget due to its robust bookings and possibly exceed its budget, said Katherine Van Keimpema, the town's general manager of corporate services.

The estimated shortfalling has been taken into account in a revised 2020 budget for the town.

With the easing of restrictions for outdoor gatherings, the town has reopened its permit process, and applications are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, says Bell.

The Clubhouse has been closed since the onset of the pandemic. She believes it will likely remain closed for the balance of the year due to the sanitation challenges presented by COVID-19. It only recently began accepting public rentals.