TRURO - Colchester County council has agreed to provide support to the financially stricken Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE), although the details of that assistance are still to be determined.
"What this means to not only the people that live in this community but also the businesses that thrive in this community, I have no idea. But it's significant," Coun. Bill Masters said, of the overall NSPE grounds and the Truro Raceway.
"So, to me, it's not about a whole lot of things other than, does the council believe that facility is important to this community?”
Council passed a motion during a special meeting Tuesday night to have its executive committee and staff enter into negotiations with the NSPE commission and other persons or parties to:
1 - Determine whether financially viable strategies for the continuation of the exhibition commission can be developed.
2 - To define the appropriate role for the municipality in that strategy.
3 - To develop agreements that support the long-term commitment to the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition.
Council also agreed to send a letter to the Nova Scotia minister of agriculture in an effort to gauge what support, if any, may be forthcoming from the province and to also look at providing short-term financial support to the NSPE.
“If we are going to make that commitment (of assistance), then they (the province) has to make that commitment (also),” Coun. Doug MacInnes said.
A recent financial review of the NSPE by auditing firm Grant Thornton showed the commission is $1.1 million in debt and is currently in an insolvent state.
Coun. Christine Blair was emphatic that a local group of businessmen who have offered to help be given a chance to do so.
“We really need to have the business people onside,” she said, “and I really think we need to give them the opportunity to turn this around.”
Truro businessman Brent MacGrath, who made the business offer to council, expressed frustration following the meeting at what he deemed to be any real progress in the matter.
“I’m not sure,” MacGrath said, of what he took away from the session.
“I’m a little foggy on what the motions meant. I’ve made it clear that we need financial information before we can put any kind of a proposal together,” he said of information that so far has not been forthcoming.
As well, he said, “the minister has said on many occasions publicly, that, ‘I will support the place if they give me a business plan.’ And obviously they can’t put a business plan together, they haven’t been able to put a business plan together,” he said of the commission. “So I don’t know what has changed.”
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