City committee recommends providing loan to Fort Edmonton Park after challenging last few years – Edmonton

City committee recommends providing loan to Fort Edmonton Park after challenging last few years – Edmonton

Fort Edmonton Park moved one step closer Wednesday to receiving a loan from the city as the attraction aims to regain its footing following challenges it faced from the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfire smoke in the past few years.

City committee recommends providing loan to Fort Edmonton Park after challenging last few years – Edmonton

At city hall on Wednesday morning, members of the City of Edmonton’s executive committee voted in favour of a motion to recommend to city council that it approve a $1.5 million loan. The matter is expected to be discussed by city councillors at an April 3 meeting. If the bylaw is passed at that meeting, the the report will return to council May 14 for final approval.

Darren Dalgleish, the CEO of Fort Edmonton Management Co. (FEMCO), was among the attraction’s representatives who answered questions the committee had prior to the vote.

He explained that revenues took a hit when the park could not open during the COVID-19 pandemic and lost approximately 15 per cent of its “operating capacity” last summer when it was closed to adhere to city health guidelines in response to smoke from wildfires drifting into the city.

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Dalgleish explained that the park continues to recover and find new ways of generating revenues, particularly during “shoulder seasons,” like its Halloween-themed “Dark” event. He also told the committee he anticipates the park will be proposing an admission fee hike as the facility grapples with rising costs.

The discussion on Wednesday largely centred on the fact the FEMCO recently repaid the Canada Revenue Agency money it had received after applying for funding from the federal government through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program.


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The CEWS program subsidized employers’ staff wages by 75 per cent with the aim of encouraging them to hold on to their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. FEMCO said it received funds for 2020, 2021 and 2022.

FEMCO said it applied in good faith, believing that it was eligible for the funding but that the CRA later ruled that it was not eligible because it is a solely-owned subsidiary of the City of Edmonton.

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FEMCO, which said other attractions in Alberta like Edmonton’s Telus World of Science and Calgary’s Heritage Park also applied for CEWS funding, immediately paid the money it received back to the federal government. It said it is hoping for a loan from the city as it navigates through cash-flow issues but that it is very confident it will be able to repay the loan.

“As you know we’re highly seasonal,” Dalgleish told the committee, reiterating FEMCO’s commitment to finding new revenue streams, particularly outside the summer months.

He noted that upon being told of its ineligibility to receive the CEWS funding, FEMCO paid the money back immediately, prompting CRA to waive any interest fees.

Dalgleish noted the federal government has been helpful with Fort Edmonton Park’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, pointing to funding it received to develop immersive year-round experiences. He noted that the attraction’s Indigenous Peoples experience was in part possible as a result of Ottawa’s help.

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