A heritage restoration project seven years in the making is nearing the homestretch.
The Dome Building on the Keystone Centre grounds has seen slow and steady progress since the major undertaking began.
"We did what we could with the money we had, and that’s the way we’ve proceeded with this project," said project manager Daryl Knight.
"It’ll be great to have the fair board back on the grounds where the original fairs were, and it’ll be great to be in a heritage building of this stature."
Crews are currently working to insulate the building, which will be followed by backing board and drywall.
"We’ll be setting ourselves up for heating," Knight said. "It’ll be ready to paint basically when we finish this stage, and then the next stage, which we’re pushing to try and finish soon, is to finish up the offices, display areas and all of that."
Originally, the goal was to open its doors by this summer, but it’s looking more like a fall opening now. The ultimate goal is to get it finished in 2017, to coincide with Canada’s 150th, as well as the 135th anniversary of both the City of Brandon and the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba.
"It’s just a year of significant anniversaries," said Ron Kristjansson, general manager of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba.
"Our big push to have this building done … and have it the centrepiece of our events."
The building, officially known as the Display Building No. II, was built in 1913 for the Dominion Fair. It’s the last building standing in Canada that was built specifically for the event. It is both a national historic site and a provincial heritage building.
The fundraising goal was originally $7.2 million for the project, but Kristjansson said they now believe the project will need just over $6 million. Cost savings were thanks in part to donations-in-kind.
"The original estimates were based on sort of a worst-case scenario/the highest cost of things," he said.
"We had some situations where things weren’t the worst-case scenario and we were able to come in with some things under costs."
They have surpassed $4.5 million in fundraising for the project, and Kristjansson said the final push will include some borrowing, which will help them acquire other grants.
"It’s a case of being able to borrow a dollar and spend $2 or $3," he said.
The project has received a wide range of support, and just recently the City of Brandon approved $85,000 for the third year in a row.
The federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund has contributed, as well as Heritage Canada, Parks Canada and the province.
"It’s been a long project for our organization," Kristjansson said. "It’s been a lot of different funding sources, different funding streams that have come in."
Restoring a century-old building to honour its heritage, while modernizing it for functionality, has been a challenge.
"It’s an interesting process to make all those pieces fit together," he said.
Once complete, Provincial Ex staff will move in, and will also rent out space for other not-for-profit, agricultural organizations.
"We’re going to have a big agriculture learning centre as part of it as well," he said.
One of the next tasks for project organizers is to reach out to corporate agriculture partners for the capital campaign.
"This area is obviously a strong agricultural area, and we’ve got a lot of great agriculture businesses here," he said.
"We’ll be talking to all of them in the upcoming weeks and months to see if there’s a piece of this that might fit their community support program."
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