Westerner Park Celebrates 5 Years as Home to Canadian Finals Rodeo
In partnership with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA), Westerner Park proudly marks five outstanding years as the host of the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR).
For over half a decade, Westerner Park has been a dynamic hub for rodeo enthusiasts, distinguished athletes, and passionate fans, uniting in celebration of the indomitable spirit of Canadian Rodeo, our western heritage and the agricultural sector in Alberta.
As we bid adieu to this chapter, we mark the transition of this distinguished event to a new host city. We wholeheartedly convey our best wishes to the incoming hosts, confident that they will continue with the same ardor and devotion that Westerner Park has exemplified throughout our tenure.
The collaboration forged between Westerner Park, the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, the City of Red Deer, and Red Deer County, has been nothing short of extraordinary. Together, we’ve preserved the legacy, showcasing the heart and soul of rodeo in Canada, while also leaving a profound impact on our broader community.
“Hosting the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Westerner Park has been a privilege and a source of immense pride for our organization. We are grateful for the memories created and the impact this event has had on our community. As we pass the torch to the next host city, we look forward to an exciting future for Westerner Park. We remain committed to being a dynamic destination for agriculture, entertainment, culture, and community engagement in Alberta.”
— Shelly Flint, Chief Executive Officer, Westerner Park
We eagerly anticipate the continuation of the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Alberta, secure in the knowledge that this iconic event will remain a cornerstone of our nation’s rodeo heritage.
“The City of Red Deer is incredibly grateful for the five years the CFR made Red Deer home,” said City of Red Deer Mayor, Ken Johnston. “From the citizens, the businesses, and our whole community we are thankful for the benefits this event brought to us, and we are excited to have one last hurrah this year. City Council and I wish the City of Edmonton all the best in keeping this event to our great province.”
Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood remarked that “over the past five years, Red Deer County has been a proud sponsor of the CFR. The world-class event has given visitors a chance to see what central Alberta has to offer and provided a big boost to local businesses. I am excited to welcome contestants and rodeo fans one last time, knowing that next year the legacy of Canadian rodeo and agriculture will remain in good hands”.
Furthermore, Westerner Park, along with the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County, will continue to collaborate in bringing events and initiatives that the community desires. This collective effort will result in continued
economic prosperity for Central Alberta.
Moreover, the recent 30-million-dollar expansion to Red Deer Regional Airport presents exciting opportunities for our community, promising increased accessibility and potential growth for events hosted at Westerner Park.
“Looking ahead, the future is bright for Westerner Park. We eagerly anticipate the myriad of opportunities to host both new and returning clients, further solidifying our position as a premier destination for dynamic events. The next chapter promises growth, innovation, and even greater contributions to the vibrant tapestry of Central Alberta’s cultural and economic landscape.”
— Tyler Nightingale, President, Westerner Park Board of Directors
About Westerner Park
Westerner Park is Central Alberta’s largest tradeshow, agricultural, sports, entertainment, and convention facility. A not-for-profit organization and agricultural society, Westerner Park typically generates $150 million annually in economic activity, hosting over 1,500 events and 1.5 million visitors each year.
City Council decides to close Red Deer’s Overdose Prevention Site
City Council requests the Province of Alberta make changes to OPS in Red Deer
City Council made decisions (Friday) related to Red Deer’s Overdose Prevention Site (OPS), requesting the Government of Alberta (GOA):
- formalize an orderly transition of the existing OPS out of Red Deer by the end of 2025;
- provide in its place greater harm reducing options within our community that focus on health, wellness, and recovery, including more detox capacity, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), recovery coaches, counsellors, and culturally appropriate health and wellness supports, etc.;
- provide dedicated grant funding to provide a continuous police presence/enforcement in the immediate vicinity of the OPS and temporary shelter, until the crime and social disorder impacts associated with these provincial services are better mitigated for the safety and security of our public;
- substantially increase front-line supports for mental health and addictions within our community/region to better address the root causes leading to drug and alcohol addictions.
These decisions stem from a Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Higham on December 18, 2023. After being read into the record on January 22, 2024, a non-statutory public hearing was scheduled for yesterday, February 15, 2024. Approximately 40 members of the public attended the non-statutory public hearing, with approximately 30 individuals speaking to the Notice of Motion, sharing their thoughts on the issue.
After hearing from the public yesterday, City Council debated the motion today, with Mayor Ken Johnston now having City Council direction to take the issue forward to the province and proceed with advocacy efforts.
“The public hearing and the debate of this motion were harrowing and emotional experiences for everyone. Each of us have been touched in some way by addiction; we heard that very clearly, and I am no exception. We heard heartfelt testimony from many members of our community, citizens, some who use the OPS, some who are service providers in the community, business owners, doctors, family members that have lost loves ones, and more,” said Mayor Johnston. “Council approached this most sensitive of issues with open minds, open ears, and open hearts. We are trying to improve lives for those suffering from addiction. This is a complex challenge, as these are areas where municipalities do not have jurisdiction. What we know is that Red Deer needs robust support from the provincial government for people with addictions; we need support for our community that is grappling with the fallout of addictions; and we need that support in the most immediate way.”
Mayor Johnston added, “Following this meeting, I will reach out to the Ministry of Addictions and Mental Health to book meetings where we can discuss how to move forward in the best interest of our city.”
Currently the OPS is located 5246 53 Avenue in downtown Red Deer.
Mayor and City Council statement on passing of Jack Donald, an incredible philanthropist and community builder
“Be honest with yourself, with others. Be proud of what you do, and do your best.” – Jack Donald’s advice to young people
Quote and photo courtesy of the Alberta Order of Excellence
“On behalf of City Council and City staff, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Jack Donald on their loss. Jack was a remarkable leader, contributing over 50 years to the growth and development of Red Deer and Central Alberta as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community builder. His vision and business acumen significantly impacted the local economy, creating jobs and attracting investment. Jack’s tireless charitable efforts have left a lasting impact on various community causes.
In 1964, Jack and Joan Donald moved to Red Deer, where Jack not only grew his business but also became actively involved in community service. From leading the Optimist Club and Rotary Club to serving as a Red Deer Alderman in the 1970s, Jack demonstrated a deep commitment to the well-being of the community. His dedication to education led him to serve on the Board of Governors for Red Deer College, where the Donald School of Business stands as a testament to their generosity.
Jack’s contributions extended to Westerner Park, where he played a pivotal role in relocating the exhibition grounds and building key facilities. His philanthropy also reached beyond, co-chairing a successful 2005 fundraising campaign for STARS and earning induction into the Southern Alberta Business Hall of Fame in 2011. Named Red Deer’s Citizen of the Year in 2002, Jack Donald leaves behind a legacy of community spirit, business brilliance, leadership, philanthropy, and unwavering volunteerism that will resonate throughout Central Alberta for generations.
Our deepest condolences go out to the Donald family and friends. Please know that we share in your grief, recognizing that Jack’s impact will endure as a beacon of inspiration for our community.”
Mayor Ken Johnston
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