Stonewall Quarry Days' future in doubt

Tanya Swanson (left), Stephanie Duncan (centre) and Sandra Smith announced to council for the Town of Stonewall that they are stepping down from the Stonewall Quarry Days Committee during council's regular meeting in Stonewall, Man. on Feb. 19, 2020. (Photo credit: Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times/Postmedia Network)

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Three longtime members of the Stonewall Quarry Days organizing committee have told council for the Town of Stonewall on Feb. 19 they are stepping down after this year’s event in August and warned that if replacements can’t be found, 2020 could be its last year.

Stephanie Duncan, Tanya Swanson and Sandra Smith all announced their intentions to hand over the reins of the annual summer event, but will still help organize Stonewall Quarry Days later this year. They said as the event grew over the past few years, it has become more time-consuming to organize and that other festivals comparable in size have had a paid position to help co-ordinate various events.

“We have reached out to our committee, have had many discussions and there is no one at this point interested in co-chairing the event,” Duncan told council, adding it has become difficult to find volunteers, even moreso committee members, and is asking for the town’s input. “Today, we are here to let the town know that we can no longer take on all the elements of planning associated with Stonewall Quarry Days.

“At this point, we see no other option other than cancelling the festival after this 2020 event.”

Stonewall mayor Clive Hinds called the news “a bit of a shocker,” but empathized that volunteers can grow tired working for the same event every year. Duncan said that planning for the next Quarry Days begins only one month after the previous event.

“Tanya and I start in September and October right after the one ends with confirming entertainment and booking spaces and filling out grant applications and booking porta-potties and barricades … There’s lots of stuff involved in it,” Duncan added.

Smith mentioned that after Robert Potter departed as the town’s CAO in 2013, many of the administrative duties for the festival fell onto the committee. All three have expressed their desire to see Quarry Days continue for years to come, but have said that the job has become too big.

“Kudos to (Tanya and Stephanie) that the festival’s still running, but it has evolved in such a way that it’s so huge and the time commitment is too much for where we’re at in our personal lives and professional lives,” she said.

Hinds expressed his appreciation towards the three organizers and said that 2019 was the best he had seen. He also added that council will discuss options on how to ensure Quarry Days’ future.

Later in the meeting, Andre Lafleche and Mel Harrison of Lions Manor made suggestions to council on how to improve the safety of residents, including reducing the speed limit on Keith Cosens Drive to 30 km/h year-round from 5th St. West to Lions Way and realigning the sidewalk near Lions Manor on 5th St. West to improve pedestrians’ visibility.

Last year, council banned parking on Keith Cosens Drive to the dismay of residents living on the street. Lafleche told council that more vehicles are now using 3rd Ave. South to get to Gray Street instead of Keith Cosens Drive and would like to see restricted parking on the north side of the street.