Staff with the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba were “blown away” on Friday afternoon when the federal government announced it would grant $500,000 toward the renovation of Brandon’s historic Display Building No. 2.
“It’s stupendous,” Provincial Ex general manager Karen Oliver told the Sun. “I was not anticipating anything near what we received.”
Without any fanfare or ceremony, the office of Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed quietly sent out a media release just after 4 p.m. on Friday, announcing the funding.
“By supporting the Dome Building restoration, our government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen our economy and support our arts, culture and heritage,” Tweed said in a release. “The Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba has worked tirelessly on this project through fundraising and overwhelming volunteer support. I commend them for putting together an excellent plan and team.”
The Provincial Ex had submitted an application last year to the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program, under a funding stream open to groups for capital projects that commemorate an anniversary of 100 years or greater.
Though the group had asked for the maximum available through the program — $500,000 — Oliver said she had no idea that the level of funding would be so generous.
“Who would have ever guessed that it would be so positive?”
The Display Building No. 2, also known locally as the Dome Building on the Keystone Centre grounds, was recently listed by the Heritage Canada Foundation as one of the top 10 most endangered places in Canada. Oliver hopes the Provincial Exhibition will be able to rededicate the structure next year, during its 100th anniversary.
“We’re so excited and grateful to receive the approval for this funding from Canadian Heritage which will allow us to move ahead with the completion of the exterior of Display Building No. 2 and restore this community landmark to its former glory.”
Phase 1 of the $7.1-million project — including drainage work, engineering and architectural studies, roof repair and replacement, and the construction of sewer and water in the building — began in 2010 and was completed last year.
The second phase, which includes foundation repair, was the “big, slow, expensive project” that required significant funding before it could begin.
With this latest federal grant, Oliver says her organization has now collected about $3 million for the renovation and construction costs — $1 million from the federal government, $800,000 from the Provincial Exhibition and local fundraising, and about $1.2 million in provincial cash.
“We're ready to commence now with the foundation under the domes, and we have ordered the exterior siding but there's a lot of work to do in terms of repairing existing siding wherever it's possible. And where it's impossible it has to be replaced with siding thats the same profile and the same degree of dryness and the whole nine yards. This will allow us to do that.”
Earlier this week, Oliver announced that work to restore and rebuild the 164 antique windows and 1,164 window panes for the Dome Building has been completed by volunteers with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
The last phase of the project will involve the construction of a building within a building, complete with office spaces, an interactive museum, and storage.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 5, 2012