As part of its budget preparation Abbotsford city council will soon decide whether to assist Abbotsford Agrifair with a grant of $200,000.
Clearly, not all requests for grants can be approved, but this one has much merit, and should be approved. These are the main reasons.
• Agrifair serves the entire city.
• The main reason for the request to increase the grant from last year’s $90,000 is that at the urging of various groups the saloon was closed, “to make the fair more family friendly.” In this case, raising morality costs money.
• Agrifair helps to put Abbotsford on the map.
• It always strikes me as being a symbol of recognition of the area’s pioneers, especially their years of hard pioneer work in clearing land, draining large areas, and launching the city’s most important economic activity – agriculture.
• Agrifair attendees from more distant places spend money not only at Agrifair, they also spend funds at hotels, restaurants, and shops.
• At a time when it is difficult to attract younger people to agriculture, Agrifair provides both opportunities for, and recognition to, young and prospective farmers.
• Given the huge generation of economic activity by Abbotsford’s farmers and people working in related businesses, a $200,000 subsidy is, indeed, modest.
• Large subsidies are given to other economic sectors in the city, such as public transportation and hockey arenas, not to mention a large complex and a hockey team. The case for Agrifair’s much smaller requirement is at least as convincing.
• It must not be forgotten that when it seemed that the Stave Lake Water Project might not gain the needed public approval, council apparently had no difficulty finding $326,965 to promote the proposal. The $200,000 needed by our fine fair can surely be found in the same place.
The results will doubtless be more impressive.
John H. Redekop