After heightened security costs initially jeopardized the event, the annual Langdon Days celebration will officially be moving ahead this summer after all.
A special Rocky View County (RVC) Recreational Governance Committee meeting was held on Aug. 3 to discuss the Aug. 20 to 22 event, which the Langdon Community Association (LCA) had cancelled a few days before due to rising security costs and other issues with the County.
During the special meeting, Couns. Jerry Gautreau, Al Schule, Crystal Kissel, Kevin Hanson, Greg Boehlke, Mark Kamachi and Kim McKylor voted unanimously to provide the LCA up to $5,264 to cover the costs to have RCMP officers attend the celebration in an additional security capacity.
A motion arising was also brought forward to bring back the Special Events Bylaw to look at what needs to be changed to ensure such issues don’t keep arising. Kissel, Hanson, and McKylor voted on the opposing side.
“I like the spirit of this motion, but I don’t think I can support [it],” said McKylor during the meeting. “We only have a few meetings in September, and while I think there [are] opportunities to look at this bylaw, I think we can leave it for the next council. I think the bigger opportunity is not with the bylaw, but a better understanding of what we can expect.”
After the meeting, LCA chair Chrissy Craig said she is still disappointed with the County’s handling of Langdon Days, but was happy to hear the event can carry on as intended.
“It’s a start – we are just happy Langdon Days is back on,” she said.
Typically held in July, Langdon Days is a three-day festival in celebration of the hamlet. The event includes a parade, beer gardens, baseball tournament, pancake breakfast and food trucks, among other attractions. Funds raised from the event support the LCA’s development and maintenance of recreational facilities within the community.
This year, Langdon Days was postponed until August, in the hopes eased COVID-19 public health restrictions would allow for a full range of festivities.
But on July 29, Craig posted to the Langdon community Facebook page, indicating the County was requiring the LCA to pay for two hired RCMP officers and six security guards, at a cost of just under $10,000. She said other costs were required as well.
“I am ready to cancel the event before we can even get started,” she wrote. “This event is a fundraiser to help pay for the rink, playground, skate park and many programs.”
She added Langdon days costs the LCA $60,000 to put on every year.
“[I am] so very frustrated and disappointed for the community,” she said. “At this point, the LCA will lose $15,000 on the event.”
A few days later, Craig issued another Facebook update to let the community know Langdon Days was being cancelled. On Aug. 2, she issued a letter to RVC on behalf of the LCA, stating Langdon Days could not occur due to rising costs, which she attributed to County regulations.
“As you are aware, the LCA has decided to cancel Langdon Days due to financial reasons and the demands put on the volunteer group by the recreational department within the County,” the letter read. “Though the financial help is needed and much appreciated, the biggest concern is what happens in the future if the bullying and inconsistency of the recreation department doesn’t change.”
The letter went on to say the issue is the “number-one concern” that council needs to discuss.
Craig said she took over organizing Langdon Days in 2015, after the previous volunteer coordinator resigned six weeks before the event due to stress “put on her by the County.”
“In the six years I have been running the event, it has been the same 90 per cent of the time, year after year,” her letter stated. “The only thing that changes are the requirements by the administration.”
The letter touched on a list of items that have made organizing the celebration difficult over the years, according to Craig.
“On top of the ever-changing standards and processes imposed by the County, volunteer groups are also intimidated and dismissed by administration,” the letter read.
According to the letter, over the years, the LCA has abided by RVC’s additional requirements and paid the extra costs, but Craig said it has gotten to a point where Langdon Days is becoming “unaffordable and too much stress to run.”
“There has been much discussion of volunteer burnout by the County, however, it is the County administration that causes most of this burnout,” she said in her letter. “There is a systemic problem within the RVC administration that stifles community involvement within our county. We have spoken to other volunteer organizations within RVC that have given up running events of any size due to administration actions.”
Craig went on to say her letter is about Langdon specifically, but the problems are universal across the county.
“A change needs to be made at the root level so that all communities, not just Langdon, can enjoy festivals and events to enrich their communities,” she said. “By providing financial assistance and not addressing the root of the problem, council will be putting a band-aid fix on a cut, and next year and every year forward, it will continue to bleed.”
Area Coun. Al Schule said after the emergency meeting that he was happy the committee was able to find a solution so the local and beloved event could move ahead later this month.
“There has been a misunderstanding in terms of what is required for the liquor licensing permitting, whether the event needs security or RCMP in attendance,” he said. “If RCMP are required, the County will look after the $5,000 bill.”
In response to the letter sent out by Craig, Schule spoke to the discussion during the meeting that touched on revisiting the Special Events Bylaw. He said RVC’s acting chief administrative officer, Kent Robinson, said he was going to bring a review of the bylaw back to council.
Schule added he feels RVC needs to have two separate policies – one for community events and one for special events, such as music festivals.