Further to the discussion at Saskatoon City Council on March 22, 2021, Prairieland would like to elaborate on our mission and the role we play in the community.
Prairieland Park evolved from the Ag Society formed in 1886 to host the first fair, in the temperance colony of Saskatoon. That makes Prairieland older than the city itself. Our agriculture heritage continues to this day in the events we host including the Western Canadian Crop Production Show, Beef Expo, Equine Expo, Youth Leadership, and nearly 100 other community run events at our dedicated Ag Center
on the property.
Questions have been raised recently about our zoning and tax abatements. Prairieland leases 136 acres from the City. While Prairieland does receive tax abatements, like the other convention centers in the City of Saskatoon, plus all other fair grounds in the country of Canada, they are not contingent on the zoning. The lease agreement is subject to the Cities Act, not the zoning bylaws. The lease also suggests what can and cannot operate on the property. As per our lease, current operations included not only agriculture, but also events, culture, industry, sport and entertainment.
While it was a business decision to end Live Thoroughbred Horse Racing in our community, we are sorry to see it go. Its history and heritage will live on in the events we host and the upgrades to the Grandstand that will occur to facilitate the new Professional Soccer Franchise planned for 2023. We expect the economic spin-off of that team to be in millions for the tourism industry here in the province. Prairieland Park, the management, staff and the Board are proud of the events we have been able to bring to the city and will continue to look for opportunities to grow and support the tourism industry here at home.
Prairieland Park separate business, neither City nor Council controlled: Solicitor
The City Solicitor today outlined Prairieland Park is not operated by the City nor does City Council direct or control the business decisions of Saskatoon Prairieland Park Corporation (Prairieland). At the regular business meeting of Council Monday afternoon, Cindy Yelland further explained Prairieland is a non-profit and external third-party corporation not created by the City of Saskatoon.
Yelland was responding to an inquiry from Coun. Bev Dubois during the question period portion of the agenda.
“Saskatoon Prairieland Park Corporation is an external corporation and is not created by the City of Saskatoon, and as such, the City has no say with respect to the operation of the facility at Prairieland Park including Marquis Downs. What the City does have is a lease for the land at Prairieland Park and there is a wide range of uses that are available to Prairieland Park under that lease and everything we’ve seen to date, Prairieland Park is in compliance with the in terms of their lease,” Yelland said.
Ever since Prairieland announced horse racing would end at Marquis Downs in favour of pursuing a professional soccer team in the Canadian Premier League, Coun. Dubois said many in the community had questions about the operation of Prairieland Park Corporation.
Other key points:
• The City has a long-term lease with Prairieland Park for land, and until the lease expires the City cannot unilaterally make changes to the lease terms.
• The 50-year lease is $100 per year until April 30, 2045, but Prairieland Park has the option to renew the lease until April 30, 2065.
• The City purchased the current site of Prairieland Park in 1908 and while the name has changed over the years, Prairieland Park has continuously occupied the site since that time.
• The lease allows for a wide range of uses and the City believes that Prairieland Park is in compliance with the terms of the lease.
• The lease requires Prairieland Park to obtain the written approval of Council prior to the construction of additional development on the land. This provision does not give the City the ability to make business decisions at Prairieland Park.
• Council only approves the construction of additional development on the land.
• Saskatoon Prairieland Park Corporation is exempt from taxation.
• Any tax exemption granted to Prairieland Park is the result of a specific exemption in provincial law –The Cities Act. The City of Saskatoon is required to follow the provisions of the provincial legislation.
• Under Bylaw No. 7978, the Amusement Tax Bylaw, Prairieland collects amusement tax as part of the admission to the annual exhibition at Prairieland. In 2019 this amount was $71,000.00. The City then pays that back to Prairieland to allow the corporation to make capital improvements to the property that Prairieland owns.
• Currently, the bylaws of Prairieland allow for the City of Saskatoon to appoint one person to the Board. Historically, Council has appointed a member of Council to sit on the Board.
• Appointments by Council are a matter of public record. At all times material to this discussion the members of Council on the Prairieland board were appointed as representatives of Council.
• The Cities Act contains conflict of interest provisions. The Act specifically states that a member of Council does not have a financial interest so as to create a conflict of interest in the following situations:
o By reason of being appointed as the representative of the Council on another body; or
o That the member may have by being a director of a non-profit organization.
• The City has not identified any Zoning Bylaw contraventions at Prairieland Park and does not intend to take further action under The Zoning Bylaw.
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