From the opening of Massey Manor to the creation of the Global Market, the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation celebrated the past year’s accomplishments at its annual general meeting on Wednesday.
The not-for-profit organization supported 21 community initiatives through its Neighbourhoods Alive! small grants program, donating $50,000 to projects valued at more than $530,000.
An additional $101,000 was given to community projects across the city through the neighbourhood renewal fund.
BNRC general manager Marty Snelling said the key to the organization’s success is the number of dedicated people involved.
"None of this would happen without the people at the committee level and at the staff level, driving the revitalization of downtown Brandon," Snelling said. "You can’t do it without the government funding, but it’s the people behind it that have really made the difference."
The BNRC presented its annual housing awards to organizations and individuals dedicated to building affordable residences.
Massey Manor, which was a partnership between the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brandon Friendship Centre and the former Brandon Habitat for Humanity finally opened its doors to residents in September.
It revitalized an historic building at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Seventh Street, providing much-needed affordable housing units and emergency shelters.
Another housing award recipient was the Western Manitoba Seniors Non-Profit Housing Co-operative for the seniors housing complex currently under construction at 620 McDiarmid Drive.
The first STEPP house (Solutions to End Poverty Permanently) was completed in the past year on Rosser Avenue East. It is a project spearheaded by the CMHA and the Brandon Energy Efficiency Program.
"The beautiful thing about the STEPP house program, not only does it get low-income individuals into permanent housing, but in addition to that it sets up a low-income trust fund which will always fund family after family after family," said CMHA regional director Glen Kruck.
The STEPP program removes financial barriers for low-income individuals who seek home ownership as they will secure a mortgage based on a reduced construction price.
BNRC also presented several community awards to worthy projects completed in the past year.
Youth project of the year went to Youth Revolution for its A Better High parent forum. Cultural project of the year went to Brandon Cultural Awareness Network for its multiculturalism summer festival.
The beautification project award went to The Daly House Museum for its Victorian Garden. The project, which was 100 per cent volunteer-led, designed an authentic Victorian-inspired garden that is now considered a draw to the downtown area.
The innovation award went to the CMHA for creating the downtown Global Market.
The historical award went to the East End Community Centre for its 80th reunion project, which drew people from across the country to celebrate last summer. The educational award was presented to Brandon Community Garden Network for its gardening workshops.
As for what 2013 will hold for BNRC, Snelling said one of the main priorities will continue to be housing and homelessness.
"Because of the nature of homelessness in Brandon, family separations, loss of employment those are the two key factors," he said. "We don’t want people who are Brandonites living on the streets, we want them in some form of housing that’s affordable to them, no matter what the situation or why."