Big Lakes County turfs charity golf event

Darryl Gill, of High Prairie, right, sets to putt the ball in the 2022 annual Big Lakes County Charity Golf Tournament at the High Prairie and District Golf Course. Standing on the side left-right, are Kerri Strebchuk, Jodi Ouderkirk and Joseph Gill, all of High Prairie.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The annual Big Lakes County Invitational Charity Golf Tournament has been turfed after running for about 10 years.
At its regular meeting Feb. 22, council approved a motion to discontinue the tournament.
In the same motion, council directed administration to present charity fundraising options to council.
Administration asked council about the future of the tournament at its regular meeting Jan. 25 and council asked for more information to make a decision.
“Maybe this tournament has come to an end and maybe we can look at something different,” Reeve Robert Nygaard says just before council passed the motion.
Interim CAO Roy Brideau says the event is becoming more costly and time-consuming for staff.
Cost of staff time for the tournament was presented to council at the Feb. 22 meeting by Dave Reynolds, director of corporate services.
“Based on the analysis completed, staff time equates to about $30,000,” Reynolds says.
To host the one-day tournament, nine public works staff and 10 other county staff are required, he notes.
Public works is very busy at that time,” says Kevin Cymbaluk, director of public works.
“It takes away from our work.”
Gilwood North – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk is concerned about staff being pulled away from work duties.
“It’s time consuming for staff,” says Zabolotniuk, who notes that council does very little work in comparison.
He suggested council ask staff about the tournament.
Executive assistant and recording secretary Jessica Plante has done most of the organizing and responded at the meeting.
She says the tournament has changed since it started in 2014.
“We’re losing local sponsorships and more people just want to golf,” Plante says.
Council wants to consider a new event to replace the golf tournament that was annually held in August.
Sunset House – Gilwood South Councillor Ann Stewart suggests the county organize a major event to bring the community together.
“We should have something big like the golf tournament,” she says.
Over the years, the tournament, co-sponsored by the Town of High Prairie and the Town of Swan Hills, has attracted about 100 golfers each year.
The county also promotes the event as a way to connect with elected officials from other neighbouring municipalities and business partners.
From last year’s golf tournament, the county donated $13,367.38 to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and $6,683.69 each to the High Prairie and District Food Bank Society and High Prairie Victim Services.
In the past, money has been donated to the High Prairie and District Community Health Foundation, STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service), Swan Hills Family and Community Social Services (FCSS) and the Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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