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October 28, 2017 12:53 am

BCNE remains on Hook for Loan

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 @ 4:11 AM

Prince George, B.C. – The three  requests from the  Prince George Agricultural and Historical  Association  drew mixed  response  from  Council but  forgiving the  outstanding loan  was a no  go.

The Association requested the City forgive  the balance of  an outstanding loan, which has a balance of just over $37 thousand dollars in principal and interest. They also requested  the waiving of  utilities and  rents,  and  that  the City provide free transit  during the course of the exhibition.

Reflecting on her years as GM of the  PGX, Councillor Terri McConnachie reminded  her Council  colleagues that the fair  “Doesn’t cost the  taxpayer one red  cent”  and  explained  that the  reason for the loan in the first place was to  pay  for an out of court settlement for a lawsuit. ” It was one time assistance to help in a time of crisis.”  She made it clear  the  money was not to cover  salaries wages, or supplies, outlining that volunteers pay for everything including the toilet paper.  She also noted that during her time in the GM post,  the Association had  applied  annually for a  grant from the City, and  was never successful.  She also  reminded  her colleagues  that the  Exhibition  brings economic benefit to the City.

“Nobody wants to get into these sorts of things, we made the loan in good faith to them” said Councillor Frank Everitt.   He preferred  extending the loan going forward “as far as writing off the loan, that doesn’t fit in my mind.”

Councillor Albert Koehler says he has no problem forgiving $30 thousand dollars of the loan, leaving the Association on the hook for the $7 thousand dollar balance.

There was no appetite in waiving utilities and rent.

“We are being asked, unfairly in my mind, to forgive a loan  they promised to pay back” said Councillor Brian Skakun  “I will not support anything  other than a full repayment,  they owe us the money,   it’s about paying the City back and leading by example.”

Councillor Murry Krause  “I was  one of those people at the table too,   really believed that  giving them the loan  was the right thing.  I expected to be paid back” Krause says his concern is that  some other organization may come forward in the future that needs  a loan,  but Council will be wary of  helping because of the experience with the  Association.

Mayor Lyn Hall   says  when it comes  to  forgiving loans, “It is a  bit of a slippery slope.”   He says there is no question  in his mind that the City is  assisting organizations in the  community  with permissive tax exemptions, he noted a church recently asked  the City to forgive $5 thousand dollars in taxes,  and that was denied,  and Council had just  denied  a request from  the Horse Society for a  break in utility rates.    “I think because of the magnitude of the BCNE there needs to be a closer connection with the City.”   He says  there is  a need to get back to the table and negotiate with the BCNE  on paying the loan.

Council  has  approved  a motion to  have Administration work with the BCNE  to  develop a  schedule for repayment of the loan.  Councillors McConnachie and  Koehler were opposed.

Councillor Murry Krause  called for more discussion on  a sustainable grant  for the BCNE.





Colour me surprised; I thought there would have been more councillors in favour of forgiving the loan. Good to see they said no to both the loan and the utilities.

This just cracks me up though, “Councillor Murry Krause called for more discussion on a sustainable grant for the BCNE.” What on earth is a “sustainable” grant? Is this the fabled money tree?

McConnachie appears to me to have been in conflict by voting on this matter.

Why would the BCNE not have insurance to cover any kind of a law suit .

My thoughts exactly… WHY no insurance??? Hope they learnt from that and are getting insrance

So we should forgive a loan, because they never had a loan before? Is she serious? I should go talk to the bank about my mortgage, see if this approach works…

wow, council did the right thing.

There may not be a fair this year. But they did the right thing.

What a surprise McConnachie tried so hard for this to get passed. I think anyone who has had a high profile position in a business or organization that comes to council looking for handouts should sit that discussion out. There is no question in my mind that her buds at the PGX thought they had an insider in council to help thier agenda. They were right, but luckily the other councillors couldn’t be swayed.

I assume that those who post negative comments about this story must be very well informed of all the operations and workings of both the BCNE and the City.

So, under the assumption the board of directors are not personally liable for this loan, I think the best course of action is to just call it a day, and pay out whatever is in the bank account pro-rata to all creditors, and hopefully someone else will take on the task of putting the fair on this summer.

The Fall Fair/BCNE etc; has been around Prince George for many many years. I am sure that if one took the time and effort we could determine that the City has helped this Organization out (monetarily) many times over the years.

We are talking here of a piddly sum of $30,000.00. and making it look like a raid on Fort Knox.

In my opinion we need a rejuvenated Fall Fair, and we need to show the volunteers who spend a lot of time and money to put on this fair that they have the support of the City. So we need to find a solution to this problem.

My suggestion would be to have the City set up a long term payment plan for the fair, and for the fair to try and collect some extra money to pay this debt.

In fact I would suggest that they set up a bank account and ask for donations to get this paltry sum off the books. 3000 people donating 10 dollars would get the job done. Those business’s who put on displays etc at the fair could donate more.

Lets not forget that the City was 100% behind bringing the Winter Games to Prince George, and they did this without having the support of the majority of the people of Prince George, and even went so far as to raise out taxes over 5 years to collect a sum of $15 Million dollars for these games. This cost the average taxpayer $300.00 whether he like it or not. I wasn’t crazy about paying this tax, nor did I have much choice. If we can pull of a $15 million scheme for something the City wanted. Then perhaps they could do something for the BCNE.

Time to be proactive, and do something positive.

I for one would have no problem donating $10.00.

Shut Up About the BCNE!
Unless you have been in the belly of the beast (BCNE) you will never truly understand it. The fair has never made much for money even in years without debt! This is a community event that is operated solely by volunteers, if anyone of you can come up with better and realistic ideas, step up to the plate and volunteer to help the board of directors.
The current president and board of directors have made some mistakes from a gross lack of knowledge on how to run a fair, but the loan has nothing to do with it. This was a lawsuit that would have brought the fair down had it not been for the generosity of a great legal team that helped settle the lawsuit quickly and quietly. The PGX back then had no money to fight back and the mere 45,000.00 from the city should have been a gift as the fair is the longest and oldest annual event in the city and has never received 1 cent from the city! Unless I am wrong, the Prince George Agricultural & Historical Assoc. (BCNE) gave the city quite a chunk of land back in the 60’s for $1.00 so that they could help the city grow! They also used to hold their meetings a City Hall with the Mayor and Aldermen. What a small price to pay for the 103 years. Insurance fees do not cover contractual law suits and the cost to insure the exhibition itself for the 5 day event is very high even without ant claims!!! This is certainly one event where you can bring food and blankets in and stay from morning till night enjoying all the free shows for the price of admission. To name a few 4-H, Barrel Racing, Old Town, Pig & Duck Racers. The BCNE will have to once again put the price of the admissions up to where they were. Oops, are you going to complain about that too? You cannot have it both ways people, help them out!!!
As for Ms. McConnachie, she has every right to speak her mind! She has had nothing to do with the BCNE for several years, sat in the chair wondering how to keep the fair alive when she was there and was voted in as a councillor to make a decision on behalf of us! She is not standing up for any BUDDY she may have at the BCNE, she is standing up for the event! It is not a conflict of interest to stand up for what you believe in!
This event does not cost the taxpayers any money and with half of a million funneled through the community we should be more appreciative of it.
I could go on and on but I suggest to all, CHECK YOUR LOCAL HISTORY, CHECK YOUR FACTS, VOLUNTEER TO HELP THE FAIR and HELP SAVE IT FOR ANOTHER 100 YEARS! Come on city councillors do what’s right and share the money to other organizations, not the same ones over and over again each year! I know if Theatre North West closed I would not blink an eye! If the BCNE goes, so do years of memories!

Good comments Palopu.

If the BCNE turned a large profit, where would the money go?

Why would years of memories go just because the fair closed? Seems to me that is what memories are, just that, memories. You talk like the PGX is a living breathing entity. It is just an event that should be able to support itself. If not, then I say, bye bye. I haven’t lived in PG for 103 years so I couldn’t care less about what it did for PG 80 years ago. PG would be here the same as it is today whether the PGX existed or not. It is a mill town, not a fair town.

Two Rivers Gallery has a budget of $1.3 million, of which, $340,000 was revenue, the balance government and other grants. They had 31,000 visitors in 2014. So the subsidy was $30.96 per visitor.

The Huble Homestead got $240,000 in government and other grants for 5900 visitors, or a subsidy of $41.00 per visitor.

About half the grants are from regional district, the rest of the report says other – so I don’t know if that’s other government, or private.

So how many times does the # of visitors to the BCNE go into $35,000.00. Just so I have a clear understanding of how much of a subsidy they wanted. Maybe they just aren’t artsy fartsy enough.

I found this info in the RDFFG 2014 annual cultural report.

Newcomer, Palopu, Ski, well said.

Bent. Referring to PG as a mill town is correct to some extent, however we have a lot less mills to-day than we did in the past.

The Fall Fair (or as newly named BC Northern Expedition) draws people from the outlying areas to the City for the week-end so of course City business’s like hotels, restaurants, casino’s, etc; all benefit.

They may not have the draw or the interest they had in the past at this moment in time, however I am sure that there will be a resurgence in interest as we go forward. Especially when they bring in the Rodeo and some good bands,.

In any event life if more than working at a mill, or staring at an ipod, or going through a drive thru for a coffee. Some people like to get out and enjoy things, and see what’s happening around the Country. You should try it.

Just a suggestion.. why doesnt the BCNE approach those businesses who profit from the fair for some donations to help repay the loan? Hotels, restaurants and others could easily donate (or buy “advertising”) to help the fair which benefits their business.

ski51… with the farm animal exhibitions, and the midway food choices, I would say the BCNE has the fartsy part perfected.

Once again City Council and administration suffer from lack of vision. The PGX/BCNE is as Prince Georgian as Mr. PG. The City Council should be helping to maintain the BCNE and promoting it. It’s a community event, last year it was reported that over 44 thousand people attended. Couldn’t an extra .68 cents be added to the ticket price? We are not talking a whole lot of money.

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