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Wednesday, 16 October 2013 16:01

Rural Alberta remains ‘country strong’

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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The UFA is running a neat contest in Alberta. The Get ‘n’ Give Rural from the Roots Up initiative asks the question: “What could your community do with $50,000?”

Officials were looking for unique entries for how communities would spend $50,000. The agricultural company is giving away five prizes totalling $250,000.
Taking a sneak peek through some of the entries, there are a lot of worthy recipients. As of Oct. 10, about 30 of them were communities in southern Alberta. Entries ranged from wanting to renovate and upgrade existing sports complexes and community buildings such as halls to creating spray parks and playgrounds.
Particularly unique entries included building a quilting facility in Hill Spring, wanting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Writing On Stone Rodeo in style in 2015, creating a “makerspace” in the Delia Municipal Library  and adding a building onto the hockey arena in Rolling Hills for a fitness facility.
There’s no shortage of great ideas. One of the best aspects of the contest is UFA is letting communities reward other communities.
On Oct. 22, UFA officials will announce the first winning community along with five semi-finalists. The winning community gets to choose the next $50,000 winner from those semi-finalists.
Then in mid-December another five semi-finalists are announced with the second winner choosing the third winner. The process repeats itself with each consecutive winner choosing the next one from a list of semi-finalists until a total of $250,000 is handed out.
Each winning community is in effect “paying forward” its good fortune and helping another community complete its proposed project.
What a great concept and what a nice way for UFA to promote rural sustainability. If there’s anything that can be seen from the entries, it’s that rural Alberta is vibrant.
There are people in many communities who are passionate about their facilities and what they have to offer. They want to see these communities thrive and they are willing to do the extra work it takes to do so, including putting together entries for contests such as this one.
Communities are only as strong as the people who reside in them, so it speaks positively for rural Alberta to see so much interest in maintaining and improving what communities have to offer.
On the flip side, this contest also highlights the challenges rural Alberta continues to face. So many of the entries are what ‘city-folk’ wouldn’t be able to live without.
Duchess is trying to replace the soccer centre which burned down last year. It draws from the surrounding area and provides much-needed recreational activity for the youth.
Vulcan is looking for a new facility for the regional food bank — again a service that is invaluable to the community.
Grade 4 students in Enchant want some kind of recreation centre in their small community so they have a fun, safe place to hang out together.
A number of communities are looking for funding to help upgrade their school playground equipment including a school in Picture Butte and Seven Persons School.
It’s sad to think in a province as rich as Alberta, parents have to fundraise for a playground, while health and school officials tout the importance of physical activity for children.
UFA officials have a found a way to try and give back to these communities which support them. Maybe we can all learn something from this kind of spirit of giving and find our own ways to “pay forward” our own good fortunes.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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