THIS year’s Sustainable Living Expo (SLEX) has been officially cancelled due to a lack of sponsorship funding.
Armidale Dumaresq Council had committed $30,000 per annum for three years to the expo, but the SLEX coordinating committee determined it could not proceed with those funds alone.
The committee, chaired by councillor Paul Harmer and composed of community members led by Adam Blakester, was formed after the last expo to create a new vision for SLEX.
A strategic plan was developed by the committee, which recommended the establishment of an operational committee outside Council in order to return the expo to its community roots.
Council supported the plan, but it was later determined that SLEX could not continue without extra support from sponsors.
Smaller sustainability events will take place in Armidale for the rest of the year, but none will be on the same scale as SLEX.
Initially established by Sustainable Living Armidale (SLA) in 2007, SLEX was taken over by Council and the University of New England as its popularity grew.
Past expos have drawn large crowds, provided access to information about sustainable living practices and products, and featured keynote speakers such as popular science commentator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis.
Despite the cancellation of this year’s event, Council’s general manager Shane Burns said he was hopeful SLEX would re-emerge in the future due to local interest in sustainability and environmental issues.
“SLEX is an educational event which helps individuals learn more so that, as a community, we can all contribute to this vision,” he said.
“Council’s financial contribution and in-kind support is significant, which shows how committed Council is towards furthering our long term vision - excellent lifestyle, sustainable growth.”
SLA chair Joc Coventry was less optimistic about the expo’s future, claiming the strategies proposed to Council had been unsuccessful.
“Any avenues that we’ve been exploring have been unsuccessful so far, so we’re not hopeful that we’ll be able to get it renewed and up and running again,” he said. “At the moment, we’ve basically parked the idea.”
Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay expressed his disappointment at the cancellation of the expo, but was hopeful community interest would lead to a renewal in the future.
“Given Armidale was one of the first with this particular initiative, it was certainly good to see it build year after year,” he said. “I think the momentum has increased every year, so hopefully people will rally for it to be held again in the future.”
Mr Torbay said he would be happy to assist in any redevelopment of the expo.
“I’m proud to have been part of the original group to set up the group, and I’d be pleased to assist at any possible opportunity,” he said.