While the Squamish Chief Newspaper already let the cat out of the bag, we're still super excited to announce that the SVEA has been donated the cover-all structure from HSS and secured funding for the first phase of the project to have an indoor riding arena!!!
As many of you are aware, Howe Sound Stables at 1001 Finch Drive was sold late November last year. Not only did we say goodbye to Kirbi, Svin and Sawyer, but also to the only indoor riding facility in the area.
Stephanie Golder of Squamish Therapeutic Riding contacted the real-estate agent as soon as she found out who it was, with hopes that there would be continued access to the indoor throughout the winter. Due to the developers plans to pre-load the site in preparation for development, instead of allowing access to the indoor, he offered to donate it to the SVEA.
The newly elected board met to discuss what steps were needed in order to make this amazing opportunity come to be. We faced significant challenges to have all of the pieces come together in a very short amount of time and have been busy at work since early December.
There have been meetings with contractors for estimates, and meetings with the District of Squamish staff to get the proverbial ball rolling. Last week we were faced with increased pressure and urgency from the developer.
I met with Mayor Patricia Heintzman on Friday to further discussions I had in meetings with District of Squamish staff in December, regarding permissions, funding, and securing a longer term lease at the lands. The Mayor had me submit an application to speak in front of Council and I found out on Monday that I was to present on the following day.
Meanwhile, our hard working President Kim, had submitted 6 grant applications along with one for the Squamish Community Enhancement Grant to secure funding for the 2 phases of our project.
Phase 1. The dis-mantling and moving of the cover-all so it is in the possession of the SVEA within the timeline requested by the developer is what we spoke to Council about yesterday. We requested permission to store the cover-all at the SVEA land once it is taken down from HSS, and funding of $30,000 to cover the cost of this first phase.
Council posed very good questions (and we gave very good answers) and on the spot passed a motion to grant us $15,000. The motion was passed and as we found out later it is highly unusual for that type of immediacy.
We left the room very excited and were immediately approached by a news reporter wanting to talk about our success. I don't think our brains were working yet and we did a double take when we heard the words "I'd like to match the District and donate $15,000 to your club" from a man that approached us just outside the meeting doors.
Developer Bob Cheema says he has soft spot for horses as he had them in his past, and wanted to help us get this project underway. He just happened to be in the meeting as he was also making a presentation to Council that day. Talk about right-time, right-place!
In the space of 2 minutes, we had just raised $30,000 and covered the entire cost of the first phase of our project!!
Huge thanks go out to Stephanie Golder for getting this whole thing started, to realtor Mike Guine-Brown and developer Michael Oord for the donation of the Cover-all, to our Mayor and Council for our last minute meetings and seeing our urgency with awarding this grant, and to Bob Cheema for matching the District funds.
This is only the beginning of a very bright future for horses and horse lovers in Squamish.... If we managed to accomplish this with fewer than 10 people from our horse community, imagine what we could do if everyone got involved?
Read on, to find out what you can DO and all about phase 2.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday January 30th at 7pm. Boardroom of Squamish Savings (in same complex as Save-On Foods)
What you can do...
Letters of support - we are about to enter the next stage of fundraising and planning with the District. If we can have letters of support on hand, they are extremely valuable to show to prospective donors to show the impact of an indoor facility. Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Become a member, numbers talk. Many grants ask how many members our club has. The current number of 12 isn't very compelling for them to award us large sums of money. While we can present the numbers of the larger horse community (well over 240), when we can show people are actually invested in the club, it does help. Sign up here: Join the SVEA
Become a volunteer - even if club membership isn't for you, there will be things coming up that you may have talent and interest in helping out for. We are compiling a volunteer list to draw from (this also looks good to prospective donors). Let us know if you have special talents you can offer or are happy for general tasks or support email@example.com
Donations! - We will be accepting donations immediately towards phase 2 of our project. It may sound odd, but the more donations we can show that we have received, the more we are likely to get in the future! firstname.lastname@example.org
Phase 2... aka the rumour mill stops here...
So once we have the physical cover, what's next?
The SVEA leases land from the District of Squamish. We are currently on a year-to-year lease.
The District of Squamish is currently undergoing an inventory and assessment of all of the land that it owns. This includes, municipal buildings, leased land and vacant land. Until this process is complete (mid-Feb) they are unable to give any user groups the long term leases that most have been requesting.
There seems to be a rumour mill of uncertainty going that is instilling panic in some of the horse community saying that the district is going to "grab" the land off of the club, or "kick us out".
Neither of these is true.
Once the land inventory is complete, the district will come up with a long term plan for all of its land including the parcel of land around the recreation hub of Brennan Park.
Could the SVEA be moved? Yes
Are we just going to lose our land? We would be relocated.
Is this move going to happen immediately? No
Is there an approximate length of time for this process? Not officially, but no changes are likely to happen sooner than 3-5 years.
But how can we afford to start again? This would all become part of the Districts budget to move and re-establish our facilities (and likely improve).
A move could actually be an incredible opportunity for the club. The district knows the importance of keeping a horse community close to central Squamish and not to simply move the club further from town:
For kids and youth to be able to access facilities by bus and for parents to be able to juggle multiple activities and children within a central area.
For the SVEA to be able to work with other user groups to increase usage of new facilities
For the SVEA to continue to grow the the diverse programs it offers along with shows, events and to increase club membership.
A move could mean a larger land parcel, a community boarding stable, large outdoor and covered/indoor riding arenas, galloping tracks, on property trails for light hacking.... All of these have been brought up in recent discussions and our openness to the possibility of change will work in our favour.
SO.... In mid-Feb we will start to hear about our current lease and will then know if we will be putting the cover up this fall (once we have raised the funds) or if there is a better opportunity to re-locate and then have the cover put up in a new location.
We do not have a written quote, but verbally have been told $50,000 to put the cover-all back up. Fundraising efforts have already begun.
Any questions? There are no secrets... so don't be afraid to ask! Come to a meeting, or send us an email. email@example.com