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Coronavirus: ​Petition launched to support Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede park is shown on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The Calgary Stampede's board of directors has cancelled the world-famous exhibition and rodeo this year because of COVID-19.
The Calgary Stampede park is shown on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The Calgary Stampede's board of directors has cancelled the world-famous exhibition and rodeo this year because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

There is a push by two politicians to pressure the federal government to develop a support plan for the Calgary Stampede.

The 2020 event was cancelled on April 23 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: 2020 Calgary Stampede cancelled for first time in over 100 years amid COVID-19

At the time, president Dana Peers said the Stampede contributes about $700 million annually to the Canadian economy.

Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to support Albertans and develop a plan to aid the Stampede.

She said she has not received a response, so along with Calgary Coun. Sean Chu, the pair have put together a petition.

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“For many businesses and restaurants, Stampede is, in essence, their Christmas,” Chu said Friday.

“This is where they make profit to get them through the tough months.”

Crowds flock to the midway at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday, July 7, 2019. The Calgary Stampede’s board of directors has cancelled the world-famous exhibition and rodeo this year because of COVID-19.
Crowds flock to the midway at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday, July 7, 2019. The Calgary Stampede’s board of directors has cancelled the world-famous exhibition and rodeo this year because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Rempel Garner said since the federal government earmarked over $500 million for cultural, arts and sports organizations, surely the Calgary Stampede should be considered.

“Especially in light of the fact Alberta is in a particularly dire situation with the downturn in the energy sector. Yes, it’s been precipitated by the COVID-19 crisis and made worse, but certainly, the federal government’s policies against the energy sector have made the sponsorship environment for the Stampede tenuous this year,” she said.

She said there is no reason the Stampede shouldn’t be at the top of the list for the federal government to develop a plan to support it.

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“The Calgary Stampede is a marquee tourism event in Canada, which brings hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the Calgary area but certainly to the country as a whole,” she said.

“It provides thousands of jobs in the hospitality and tourism sector. It bolsters revenue for airlines, tourism operators and more.”

READ MORE: Calgary Stampede lays off 80% of workforce due to COVID-19

Rempel Garner and Chu are urging Canadians to sign the petition, which will be online until July 6.

In an emailed statement, the Stampede said it is an extremely financially challenging time and it appreciates government support.

“As a not-for-profit organization, the Stampede relies on significant sponsorships and an annual operating grant from the government of Alberta in order to provide programming for our community. In turn, sponsorships and the operating grant support Stampede community programming that generates approximately $700M in economic impact for Canada, $540[M] of which stays in Alberta,” it said.

“We will continue to work closely with our government partners and expect further conversations on both the federal and provincial level will take place once they are able to focus on priorities other than the current health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.​”

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Meanwhile, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies said its members are in desperate need of support.

The organization represents 293 associations including the Calgary Stampede and Edmonton Northlands.

“Regardless of size, each one of these organizations is dedicated to the communities they serve and driving vibrancy through economic and community development,” it said in a statement.

“Primary Ag Societies own and operate more than 700 community facilities and produce more than 3,400 events across rural Alberta and are as vital to their communities’ well-being as Stampede is to Calgary and our province.”