In 2005, the City of Prince George adopted a Master Plan to guide development of Exhibition Park that includes plans for expansion of the Park's equine and agricultural facilities. The existing equine facilities are managed by the Prince George Horse Society under contract with the City of Prince George. The equine facilities receive approximately 500,000 hours of use each year, between the stabling, recreational riding, lessons, clinics, horse shows and special events such as dog agility competitions and the Prince George Exhibition. Over the next five to ten years, the Prince George Horse Society intends to pursue the expansion of these facilities in partnership with the City of Prince George, to offer existing and expanded recreational, educational and competitive opportunities to area residents, as well as to attract visitors from elsewhere in British Columbia and Western Canada.
In 2009, the society received funding approval to undertake a feasiblity study of the proposed equine and agricultural facility expansion with funding from Northern Development, Enterprising Non-Profits, and the City of Prince George. The purpose of the feasibility study was to determine the financial viability and economic benefits associated with the proposed expanded facilities. The Society also commissioned a detailed site plan that outlines the exact siting of the proposed facilities, the associated circulation patterns within the new area, and links to existing facilities within Exhibition Park.
The feasibility study that was produced under this project and presented by the Prince George Horse Society to the City of Prince George can be downloaded here.
"The goal of this long-term project is to create Western Canada's premier equine centre in Prince George. Demand is here with the current facilities stretched to the limit with local user groups and individuals year-round, as well as events such as the reining shows in the summer, exceeding our current capacity. What greater place than to have it locally and to attract others from across western Canada."
Joan Chess-Woollacott, former President, Prince George Horse Society
Positive Economic Impacts in Prince George
The Prince George Horse Society wants to ensure that it continues to be fiscally sound in operating the expanded facilities. A feasibility study was needed to document additional revenue sources and potential business opportunities, and to estimate future costs of a larger operation. This information is required for developing the phasing and cost estimates of future planned construction in alignment with the Master Plan for Exhibition Park. The results of the feasibility study will be critical to securing approval from the City of Prince George and in moving forward with fundraising for the major capital projects.
An important aspect of the study has been projecting the economic activity generated by the expanded facilities, in the local and regional economy. At present, the contribution to the local and regional economy for each horse can be estimated at about $3,000 to $5,000 per year, as owners pay for boarding, feed, veterinary care, tack, clothing, farrier services, and fees for lessons, shows and educational clinics. As well, the Prince George Exhibition Park is the site for ten special events on average each year, including horse shows, educational clinics, and dog agility shows. It has been estimated that each competitor spends about $150 per day, over the course of a three to four day event.
With the site plan being publicly unveiled in 2011, it proposes an estimated $14 million expansion that would see the construction of a covered outdoor arena, a second indoor arena, a new barn, an RV parking area, additional paddocks, and portable stalls. At its August 8, 2011 meeting, City Council supported the society's request to provide staff assistance for an implementation strategy, but insisted they are not asking for millions in funding. The society intends to fund the expansion through government grants and fundraising, along with ongoing support from the City of Prince George which owns the site and buildings.