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Major transformations announced for Lethbridge and District Exhibition

On Monday, the Lethbridge and District Exhibition (LDE) saw some major transformative changes.

It started with the exhibition announcing that CEO Mike Warkentin and the LDE mutually agreed to part ways, following his two years in the position.

The LDE shared in a news release that it would begin the process of reorganizing to ensure the continued success of the organization and the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre.

“Mike Warkentin was the exact leader this organization needed to propel it into the next phase of its history,” said Mark Sayers, president of the LDE board of directors. “His positive energy and progressive vision moved this organization forward and will continue to provide positive effects for generations to come.”

The release then stated that the board would continue to examine the leadership structure needed for future operations.

However, in response to a letter of intent from the exhibition to Lethbridge city council, a special council meeting was held which has approved initial steps that would pace a new path forward for the exhibition.

On Monday evening, council passed a resolution to provide emergency interim funding to the exhibition to create what the city is calling “stability and business continuity.”

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The motion has established that the exhibition will receive one-time funding in the form of an emergency operating grant of $250,000 immediately from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR).

In addition, the city will also set aside up to $950,000 in contingency, held under city control for verified emergent needs.

The exhibition will also be subject to an independent third-party review, which will require regular reporting to the Economic & Finance Standing Policy Committee (SPC).

A memorandum of understanding will also be developed between the city and Lethbridge and District Exhibition no later than Jan.  19, 2024, subject to city council approval at the Jan. 23 council meeting.

Furthermore, an interim governance body will be implemented that will replace the current board of directors and be made up of administrative staff from the City of Lethbridge and from Lethbridge County, pending their acceptance.

The city says these transformations will ensure clarity and information to inform good decision making, and will also provide transparency to the community on how public dollars are being spent.

The Lethbridge and District Exhibition shares that it is not in a position to comment publicly on the matter at this time.

The City of Lethbridge will hold a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, providing more details onto this announcement.

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