Tuesday, 13 September 2016 08:00

Willow Creek Agricultural Society works to expand its offerings at the Claresholm Agriplex

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The new riding arena being built by the Willow Creek Agricultural Society at the Claresholm Agriplex was under construction earlier this summer. Here the outside shell goes up with the help of a crane. The new riding arena being built by the Willow Creek Agricultural Society at the Claresholm Agriplex was under construction earlier this summer. Here the outside shell goes up with the help of a crane. Photo contributed

A desire to expand the facilities at the Claresholm Agriplex, but the patience to wait to do so, has resulted in the construction of the shell of a second indoor equine facility this summer.


Willow Creek Agricultural Services (WCAS) board of directors have had expansion on their minds for the past few years.
The current Agriplex is booked almost every weekend year-round and there is also an outdoor riding arena and barn facilities. During the week, the spaces are still used by individual riders working with their horses.
Officials started to find that there were so many events taking place, that both the indoor and outdoor arenas were being used. The only problem is the outdoor space required good weather conditions.
“It’s tough to plan an event and then be weather dependent,” points out David Hansma, manager of the Agriplex. “To plan an event and know it’s a go, even if it is outside, most people want to have a back-up.”
With a second indoor facility, those people who book the outdoor space, but could be faced with inclement weather, would be able to book the indoor space as a back-up.
On the WCAS’s website, it states, “We the WCAS board of directors have defined the need for a second indoor equine facility and a new barn to complement the existing programs we are currently able to offer at the Claresholm Agriplex.”
Work started to secure funding for the facility upgrades, but all agreed the pace of construction would match the funding in place. The agricultural society was successful in securing some grant funding and combined with a lot of their own funds, work on the shell of the second indoor arena building was started earlier this summer.
With the funding in place, the building will be able to be taken to a stage that it will be basically just a shell. The facility won’t be used until the sand floor is in place, it is insulated and lighting installed. It will also not include the smaller entrance to be added on at a later date that will provide comforts such as washrooms.
“We decided that we would build when we could afford it,” says Hansma. “We’re waiting for more money from grants.”
A downturn in the economy proved to be an okay time to proceed with the building’s shell as there were contractors and volunteers available to help.
The new indoor facility sits west of the Agriplex. It required shifting the outdoor arena to the north and the necessary dirt work to do so.
Officials expect the construction of the second facility to be completed by the end of August. Just erecting the building will cost about $1 million and by the time the facility is finally finished with all of its components, will likely be double that cost.
Hansma said one of the biggest benefits of having two indoor facilities is that two different types of equine events will be able to take place at the same time. Sometimes groups don’t want to host mixed breed events, but there can be advantages including drawing in competitors and spectators.
While it’s good to have the first stage of building underway with the second facility standing, the agricultural society is happy to take their time to finish it.
“Technically to be totally finished, if it takes two years we’re okay with that,” adds Hansma. “The hardest thing is taking that first step ... We’re not trying to go out there and (fundraise). We have an existing facility that does generate revenue, we’re fortunate that way.”

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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