The needs assessment and business plan of the Cochrane and District Agricultural Society (CDAS) is nearing completion and is expected to be presented to their board by the end of the month.

Once approved by their board, CDAS president Justin Burwash says they will be making presentations to both the Ranchlands Rec Board and to Rocky View County through its policy and planning committee.

It may also lead to further discussions on exactly where the Ag Society will call home.

The plan takes a comprehensive look at the future of CDAS, whether it stays in its current location or is required to move elsewhere. The Ag Society has seen an explosive growth in the demand for its facilities and has had a strong financial performance the last few years.

No matter where the ag grounds is located they want to be prepared to build upon that success in the long-term.

"It develops a high-level order of magnitude to achieve that here or achieve it at a new site because the budgets are different depending on whether we're trying to achieve it here or at a new site," explains Burwash. "It goes through that and layouts that roadmap. As well, it gives us a framework in order to assess a new site. So if we are in a relocation scenario then it's giving us a framework of qualitative things to work through to make sure that site is sufficient."

Rocky View County has put the current 120-acre site on the market and while it has not been successful in finding a qualifying bid, the ag society is uncertain as to where they stand.

With practically a brand new RVC council in place, Burwash says completion of the planning is well timed.

"We look to work with the county to iron out what the next step really should be at this point. We need some guidance from the county and maybe even some decisions about where they want to work with us on going or staying."

"The business plan is well timed to give them some good background and good information on what we do now and where we want to be in the long term."

The CDAS, town and the county did embark upon looking at developing a joint plan for the ag grounds in 2013, but that work was never completed. Still, some of the initial questions posed at that time are discussed in this plan.

"Some of the pieces we looked at came out of that," says Burwash. "Some of the challenges on this piece of land were certainly identified in 2013 and flagged as things that need to be looked at and rectified to stay here for the long-term."

Input from facility users and potential users was valuable in helping guide the needs assessment.

"It gave us confidence in the vision of where we need to take this facility in the long-run through those surveys.

"The facility is in demand and we continue to do that without water and sewer here and with some of the parking constraints and access constraints we have. We continue to grow and provide those services very well I think."

Ag Society Needs Assessment Begins


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