When a business group led by former racetrack manager Brent MacGrath proposed a long-term business plan to help the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) last month, Colchester County mayor Bob Taylor wanted to wait.
A study of the NSPE’S finances commissioned by the county was nearly ready and Taylor, who had also floated the possibility of the county purchasing and managing the debt-ridden facility, wanted to see that process through before going back “to the drawing board to see who else can step in.”
Well, the financial review conducted by Grant Thornton is in and grim can’t begin to describe their findings.
“Given the poor operating results, and the (NSPE) Commission’s precarious financial position, the status quo cannot continue,” the report stated last week.
The report went on to say that the commission, which is $1.1 million in debt, “does not have sufficient capital to continue operations without incurring debt for which it has no prospect of repaying.”
The report suggested the county or other government departments/agencies could advance funds to retire the commission’s debts or that the NSPE could sell some of its real estate and put those proceeds against its debt. Capital assets are estimated at about $1.2 million.
It also mentioned management frustration “with respect to directions from the board which may later be varied by individual board members, putting management in a difficult position of deciding whose instructions they should follow.”
The report even noted that in a worst-case scenario, the commission could declare bankruptcy and cease operations.
This brings us back to MacGrath who informed council last week he and four other successful Truro businessmen, along with a local actuary, are prepared to work on a business proposal for the county, the Town of Truro, the Village of Bible Hill and provincial officials to consider.
MacGrath provided a detailed breakdown of how the new management would operate and if his group is given a chance he believes it can offer a financial proposal that will make the facility profitable.
The NSPE is broken and the time has come to make a change. Council is meeting Tuesday to discuss the issue. Hopefully, it opts to give him and others the opportunity to turns things around. (It didn't, but chose instead to approach the NSPE commission and other persons or parties.)