Northeast Regional Auction Market Is Transformed From Ashes to Auction
Since its inception, agriculture has been an economic mainstay for Dawson Creek and the surrounding area. In 2004, the old Dawson Creek Livestock Auction Facility, which started operating in 1957 and serviced the whole northeast region of British Columbia, was destroyed by fire. During the four years that the facility was not available, Northeast ranchers were forced to ship their cattle to Alberta for the nearest sales yard. This caused additional cost for transportation, more stress, and more 'shrink' on their animals.
In August 2007, the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association purchased the four acres with the remaining sales pens, feed pens, and check in station. In September 2007, a major Alberta Auction Company, Vold Jones Vold based out of Ponoka leased was recruited and auctions began to be held again in a temporary barn that was a less than ideal venue.
In 2009, the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association undertook rebuilding the facility with funding support from the Government of Canada's Community Adjustment Fund delivered by Northern Development Initiative Trust. The project allowed operations to move from the temporary barn to a full production, purpose built auction facility. The new facility was constructed in three phases including a livestock sales pavilion with offices, concession, bathrooms, bleachers, ring, and livestock scale.
In 2010, Vold Jones Vold leased the new facility and began operating auction sales.
"During the four years that the facility was not available, northeast ranchers were forced to ship their cattle to Alberta for the nearest sales yard which caused additional transportation costs, more stress, and more 'shrink' on their animals. Once the construction work is completed, over 30,000 head per year will be marketed through this facility."
Connie Patterson, President, Dawson Creek Exhibition Association
"The auction mart has been a huge economic driver to our region and the city itself. So I'm pleased to have one here again in Dawson Creek. I can't wait to see the impact it's going to have when we have cattle running through here once again."
Mike Bernier, Mayor, City of Dawson Creek
"I think after the fire, we were all asking 'what do we do now?'. It's been there every week for 50-60 years. It's like going to the Co-op for coffee. Not having a place to auction cattle has had a devastating effect on area cattlemen. I think we shot more cows in the last four or five years than used to go through the auction mart. For the people who brought this all together, I want to thank them very much because it means a lot to the cattlemen."
Bill Bentley, President, BC South Peace River Stockmen's Association
Positive Economic Impacts in Dawson Creek
The region's agricultural industry was hard hit by the 2003 North American Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy cases, the recent economic downturn, drought and the loss of the Dawson Creek Auction Facility which was the social and economic hub of the community and surrounding area. The new Northeast Regional Auction Mart has greatly exceeded the expectations of the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association in addressing these challenges.
The new facility has been highly successful in pulling in large numbers of cattle that were previously transported to Clyde, Grand Prairie and Edmonton in Alberta. In 2010, the number of cattle sold nationally at auction was lower than 2009, however, the numbers were up in Dawson Creek by 2000 head in September alone. The addition of internet sales capability has also enhanced sales with 660 head of cattle being sold in one single internet transaction.
In addition, the activity created by the project resulted in the creation of new businesses, the maintanence and expansion of existing businesses, and the creation and maintanence of new and existing employment. The revenue generated by the facility is used to maintain the auction facility and to promote other areas of agriculture at the Dawson Creek Exhibition Grounds.
The facility looks to have a bright future with Vold Jones Vold signing a five year lease agreement on the facility with the option of a further five years.
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