Support REACH this Wednesday, April 6th
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 06:23

Help Save the REACH CentreAt the 2011 North-East Regional Invitational High School Rodeo at The Regional Equine & Agricultural Centre of Huron Inc., there were a few conversations floating around.

For many, it was our first time inside the Facility, a state-of-the-art heated arena, complete with stalls, dorm rooms, concession areas, instruction areas and more. In its still "near-new", pristine condition, and impeccable up-keep, we really appreciated how special of a facility it has become. There have been several Roping Association of Ontario Ropings there to-date, plus Team Sortings, Barrel Races, an up-coming Team Roping Clinic and many more Western Events. Plus it has become a local riding and instruction facility, and even an indoor soccer field for the college students.

However, the other conversation that was circling was how the "Town" is rallying to shut the building down and convert it into other purposes. My brief understanding is that they feel that too much of their money went into the facility, and they're not getting their use of it, or a return on their dollar. Their claim is that no one locally is benefiting, just "all these out of towners" coming in. Floating around is a figure of $1,100,000 annually to run, with a gross income of $25,000 last year.

The counter to this by REACH supporters has been: Most of the funding for this building has been by the Provincial and Federal Governments, and though the Building has been open a year, it just "started" becoming fully viable for different groups this winter, and it has to "grow". By their own website,, they announce the finalization of the Arena Footing in May of 2010...who needs an indoor arena in June for an event?

The boat the "town" is missing, off the top of my head, is the revenue that the facility brought to the town and surrounding area. There are major impact studies to do, or to at least reflect on, however, Me, Bobbi and Marshall went to the REACH Friday afternoon, the Black Dog in Bayfield on Friday Night, stayed at the Bayfield Village Inn in Bayfield Friday and Saturday Nights, had brunch at the Dinner Bell Restaurant in Clinton on Saturday Morning, got a coffee at Tim Horton's before the performance at REACH in Clinton, had dinner at Rumorz in Clinton Saturday Evening, after a round trip to drop the Family off, I went to Charlie's Variety in Clinton to get a 5-hour Energy Drink and Halls, went to the REACH for the pizza party, needed cash for the rest of the weekend, stopped at Charlie's Variety on the way back to the hotel for an ATM, grabbed another java at Tim Horton's. Sunday Morning, woke up late, had breakfast at Tim Horton's in Clinton, went to REACH, and before leaving town, grabbed one final coffee at Tim Horton's (yes, went to both ends of town,) fuelled up my Super Duty at Edward Fuels Shell. My rough calculation on this: $598.50 that Bobbi, Marshall and I contributed to the local communities of Clinton and Bayfield. Though quaint towns, this was the first time in my 32 years as a Canadian that I have ever stepped out of a vehicle in either of these cities.

High School Rodeo at REACH in April 2011

Now for the crazy math: I was one family at $600, there were 48 contestants at the High School Rodeo (some with more family members than others), so where there were more kids in a Family, or supporters, a trailer over a hotel.... go with $300 / contestant = $14,400. If the events were on this scale, 52-weeks a year, just the community boost is $748,800. (plus building revenues, taxes, etc.) Three-day Barrel Shows, Quarter Horse Shows, etc. would fall into that category.

A regular rodeo attracts over 150 Contestants and in similar markets, 1,500 Spectators / performance x 2 ... using the $300 rule on the Contestants and even garnering back to $150 on the Spectators, that could exceed $270,000 of town impact for one event.

My quick farmer math is simple. Proper impact studies have shown a single town impact at over a million for a single Rodeo in Ontario: accommodations, meals, entertainment, fuel, advertising and promotions, grounds leasing, maintenance, loyalty to a town, industry boosted, more out-of-town money in the town, then spent in the town by the town... (the Black Dog in Bayfield is my new favourite pub on the Planet)

Missing ingredient? Regardless of the rodeo, or event type, the Town must embrace these events and facilities. Sponsor. Promote. Attend. If it wasn't for my tweaked iPhone, we wouldn't have found the Dinner Bell Restaurant. If it wasn't for the High School Rodeo at the REACH, $600 less would have been spread around Bayfield and Clinton.


The REACH supporters are organizing a rally/get-together this Wednesday, April 6th at 7:00pm at REACH to discuss what can be done to give this facility a chance. The Donaldson Ranchhands (Ty, Bailey and Logan) have been asked to give a short blue grass concert at the meeting, so there's entertainment on the program as well.

But if you're available to attend to show your support, it would be great. The venue may not be in your backyard, but for our industry, it is close to perfect, and they're planning on making more changes and additions. Let's do what we can. This is kinda like "...they paved paradise and put up a parking lot...", except it's a soccer field.

If you know anyone that would be willing and able to attend, please forward to them as well. If you can't attend but feel compelled to help out, you can email me a note and I'll deliver it for you (

Hope to see you on Wednesday.



Thanks to all of you who have take the time to like/share/forward/comment, etc.

This started as a text message for me, and has developed into a full campaign on multiple platforms, and I'm glad to be a part.

First, this meeting is actually a Municipality of Clinton (Town Meeting) described as a working budgetary meeting. Decisions won't be made at this meeting, but this is the meeting where the Council will look for comments from those in attendance.

It is perceived that the "nay-sayers" are organized and funded by a "Say No to Wind Turbines" group, and that they may show and wish to speak in large volumes. This lobby group is trying to pressure Council to adjust their 5-year commitment, and to repurpose the REACH Centre.

For Wednesday's meeting the following three things are sought after:

  • a) In person attendance or letter from Organizations that have or plan to use the facility
  • b) in person attendance or letter/email/post stating one's support from within the Horse Industry
  • c) in person attendance

Short letters and comments are definitely of use during this stage of the process.

These letters may be forwarded directly to Richard Harding of REACH Huron at or you can forward through me or by posting in the comments below.

If you are able to attend, we are asking that you meet with us as a group between 6:30 and 6:45 in the REACH Huron Arena Lobby before moving to the building where the meeting is taking place, which is on the property.

Please let Richard Harding know if you are able to speak on behalf of an organization or an individual by email: or by calling (519) 606-1490

Ideally, your contribution would state along the lines of:

  • - need for a facility as REACH
  • - value of the facility
  • - use that your organization sees for the facilty
  • - # of Event Attendees, Duration, # of Events potentially could be booked there

Finally, thanks for your help! We need bodies, speakers and letters...keep circulating and inspiring...the Equine Industry is pretty powerful!.




#21 Joe Scully, ProRodeo 2011-04-07 12:47
A full recap of the meeting is live:

Dear John Doe,
Thank you for paying your taxes to Central Huron and allowing the municipality to invest a portion thereof that into this great facility.
Your opinion was resonated last night by a few of the "nay-sayers", or in reality, concerned rate payers.
The initial plan is now posted on your town's site at: (due to that suggestion and need...)
I appreciate you taking the time to write, and I apologize for the delay in moderating these comments (ie. I didn't delete because of a potential pseudonym)
Thanks again.
#20 John 2011-04-06 16:37
There have been alot of wonderful comments on the REACH faciltiy both here and on facebook and as a citizen and taxpayer of the Municipality of Central Huron it is great to hear these comments and how everyone thinks this facitly is so great and should be a great benefit to our community. Its great to get the opinions of outsiders and hear what they have been told about the "nay sayers" in our community and how the community doesn't support the REACH Centre, but having not been a part of the whole process you have to understand where this is coming from. There was very little transparency when this facilty was being built. Not once has general public seen a business plan that shows the community what this facility is all about and how it can eventually create enough revenue to sustain itself without support from our tax dollars and how long that would take(if it was available is wasn't very accessible). We have not been show what this facitliy will bring as far a economic impact to the local economy. There are reasons why there is a sour taste in people's mouths about this facility and it has to do with lack of communication and transparency. I'm all for progress and doing things too make our community prosper, but it needs to be done with transparency so we taxpayers can understand where our tax dollars are being spent and what the longterm benefits are to the community and right now what many people in our communtiy see is a $7 million dollar expenditure on a faciltiy that we don't understand what it does and what the longterm benefits and economic impact is to the community is because we were not provided with that information. Show me a business plan that show's what exacly the facilty does and that in time it can sustain itself financially and show me how this faciltiy will create added benefits to the local economy and I'll support it 100%, but somewhere along the way we got left in the dark.

#19 tom tabor 2011-04-06 15:06
this center has been given a bad rap by some in this community some such as the business owner I spoke to her and her whole family very badly mouthing about our tax dollars being wasted and their discuss of the REACH CENTER BUT when attendees and staffing from the REACH come to their place of business and spend their MONEY with them they gradely except the CASH. lets get some posters letters to the paper and educate the poorly informed
We do not need our councilors to back track on their commitment to this very worth while complex .The Nay Sayers are the first to say NOTHING TO DO IN CLINTON ****GET OFF YOUR misinformed horse
#18 Connie Bull 2011-04-06 14:07
As owner/operator of King-Lyn Stables, Connie's Tack shop and home of the Kinglyn Stables Precision Ridng Team, I have had the privilage of frequenting the REACH facilities as both a customer and a spectator. I teach approximately 75 students a week and from time to time I find my own arena not big enough to accomodate all my needs. Currently I am renting the REACH facility for a 5 week barrel series for the benefit of my students. What a great place to broaden their experience in a show like atmosphere! My one dilema in booking the arena, was that we had to stagger our dates because of other activities already booked. However, in my opinion,THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM! How great that the horse industry as a whole is reaching out and taking advantage of the wonderful facility in our area. Our precision riding team has performed at the REACH grand opening and have used the facility in preparation for other engagements. Many of my students have attended workshops and equine seminars at REACH and have found them to be very worthwhile. Some of my students have gone on to further their education at Olds college, Guelph, Kemptville and Ridgetown, perhaps in the new future they will be able to achieve their goals much closer to home as REACH broadens their programs. The staff have been very helpful and accomodating to us, whenever we have used the facility. It would be very disappointing to see this change, let's all work together to see that this does NOT happen.
#17 Joanne Fisher 2011-04-06 12:57
While we have yet to visit the Clinton REACH Centre, we have heard nothing but great things from friends regarding the quality of this facility.

We have recently seen some of the associations that we are involved with make plans for 2 and 3 day shows which has brought about a certain amount of excitement in looking forward to showing someplace with first rate facilities.

It would certainly be a shame for those who have put in so much hard work and effort to promote this facility to see that REACH is closed down to the horse industry.

We feel that this facility is much needed and look forward to being able to pull our horse trailer up outside REACH'S doors to compete.
#16 Bruce Shaw 2011-04-06 10:01
I can only speak as an 'out-of-towner', but I wish a facility like REACH were in Exeter funded by the slots!! We have send 24 developmentally challenged young people to REACH in the last 12 months to take part in the equine program. We have paid a good price, but we have received tremendous value. The excitement is infectuous, and so we will be sending another group later this month. We have promoted this activity with sister agencies, and several have said they will be taking part. One of the huge advantages the short-sighted don't see is the financial benefit to the community. All of our people spend dollars in the stores and restaurants providing jobs and injecting real cash into the 'system' known as Clinton (Central Huron). There may be many boondoggles in this country, and I really don't blame people for being skeptical, but I honestly believe that REACH is not one of them.
#15 Susan Davidson 2011-04-06 09:29
I'm one of the out-of-towners who has benefitted from the programs and workshops provided by REACH. A few of the courses I have attended were two-day workshops, and because I live a couple of hours' drive away, I took advantage of a number of other businesses the Town of Clinton has to offer. These included bed and breakfasts, restaurants, gas stations and coffee shops, all of which were first-rate. As mentioned in an earlier posting, if not for REACH, I would never have had occasion to visit Clinton and so would likely not have ever visited and contributed to the economy of that small town. My husband and I will be heading to REACH again on Friday for another event.

I live in Campbellville, and while there are many horse farms and facilities, there is nothing that comes anywhere close to comparing to the REACH facility and the diverse activities and programs they offer. I would LOVE to have the access to the arena that Clintonites have - a place where I could take my horse for a workout out of the elements and also enjoy a leash-free Sunday afternoon with my dog and other dogs and their owners, and at such a reasonable price!

If there are residents of Clinton who think REACH has nothing to offer them, then they have obviously not been to the facility or visited their (excellent) website. In the past couple of years, they have offered courses on photography, archery, dancing, in addition to equine-related activities such as riding lessons, massage therapy, etc. In addition, they have offered evenings of fine dining and wine pairing, with the meals prepared by a top chef. I'm not sure what activities or programs the townspeople of Clinton are wanting from REACH, but I'm certain if they asked, REACH would go out of its way to try and accommodate them. My feeling is that even if REACH were to bend over backwards to try and please those who currently aren't happy, those townspeople would still complain. And, if the worst-case scenario occurs and they are able to convince the town council to "repurpose" REACH, I doubt they would ever set foot in the building, no matter what group takes over the facility.

As someone who lives in a once-thriving village that's slowly losing local retail and restaurants and becoming a ghost town bedroom community, I would LOVE to have REACH in my area. If only REACH had located in Halton...

The people of Clinton need to wake up and realize the great economic benefit REACH is to their community, as it DOES bring in (gasp!) people from out-of-town, out-of-province and out-of-country, all willing to spend their hard-earned dollars in Clinton and Huron County.

Here's hoping the Clinton Town Council will be open-minded and progressive and give REACH a decent chance to prove their incredible value to the town.
#14 Pamela Stanley 2011-04-06 08:10
As an elected Central Huron council member 2006-2010, I was there for the "birth" of REACH. There are so many valuable assets that are being developed on the old school site, including the first Huron County home of full-time post secondary education, both college and university level. The events arena, the research lab,the amphitheatre classroom, the business technology class, the state of the arts teaching kitchen and the rooftop garden teaching area. all existing, functioning and well attended.The future development plans for horse and rider accomodations and expanded greenhouse and community gardens have been on the forecast since the original business plan was approved. Continuing support of REACH should be regarded as a legacy to be protected by this council., The whole community will get behind REACH when the economics are proven and the heritage of the local horse industry is truly acknowledged by those elected to make positive, wise choices.All the water off the large REACH arena rooftop is collected, stored and recycled for washing and flushing. Please don't throw out our baby with the bath water.
#13 Jeannette Wilson 2011-04-06 08:02
As a resident and small business owner in Huron County as well as a family involved in the horse industry for over 30 years, I cannot stress strongly enough our support for the REACH facility. We have travelled many miles to horse shows, rodeos,horse sales and other equine related events and very few of them offer the type of facility to the horse industry that REACH does! The small town atmosphere offers a much more affordable venue for famiies participating in equine events and can only bring a great deal of revenue to the surrounding communities. In our opinion the first 2 years are only a building stage for what is yet to come for this fine facility. This past winter alone has shown that the facility is becoming more well known in the horse world, and without a doubt the bookings will increase from here on in. Every new facility has to prove it's worth and 2 years is not near enough time to consider making any drastic changes yet! Give it a chance and the community and the facility will all benefit! Wilson's Tack & Saddle Repair, Ernie, Jeannette & Jodi Wilson
#12 Harry 2011-04-06 06:30
Its pretty easy to see that the Reach Centre is a magnificent facility that is providing opportunity for many services that are on its current list. This venue, provides many opportunities that travel far beyond the scope of what it initial intention has been in educational opportunities and other social activities. But the potential uses of this facility are broad based, and over time will become a pivotall point for the economic base in the area, including the Clinton and surrounding towns. On July 7th, we hope to hold a Steve Green Concert at the REACH, which will bring people from not just Huron County, but from Perth, Wellinington, Oxford, Lampton, Wentworth.....and the list goes on. So broaden your vision folks. Most books are better than their covers, as is this one. In dealing with the Reach Staff in making this event happen I have been pleased by the professionalism and desire that they have to make this facility have a greater impact then one would think at first glance. Keep that vision alive!

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