The final piece of a $3.3-million funding agreement for Keystone Centre repairs came together when the federal government recently signed off on its $1.1-million share, Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed said Tuesday.
Tweed said federal Transport Infrastructure and Communities Minister Denis Lebel has approved the request for funds after the provincial and Brandon municipal governments came up with their share.
“All of the paperwork is done and we have spoken directly to the Keystone board and they know now that they can move forward and there are certainly timelines that are tight so we hope they can move forward do everything they need to do in a short period of time, I think by March 31.”
Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said investments in Brandon’s main convention and events centre are important for the city as a whole.
“We’ve got a substantial backlog of capital improvements that need to be done,” Decter Hirst said. “We have significant repairs that need to be done with the roof and we have rooms that are closed there because of the leaky roof. That impacts revenue, which ultimately affects the city’s bottom line because we are responsible for 50 per cent of any deficits. We’re also the landlord and like any good landlord, we should be maintaining our property.”
Tweed said the fact that the other funding partners had pledged and approved their share helped get the deal done quickly. The short deadline to get the work done was also a factor. If the money is not spent by March 31, it will be lost and transferred back to the federal government, Tweed said.
“There’s commitment on all sides, and that’s really what you are trying to do with any project,” Tweed said.
“You need community support and it was there. The intent here is to create some stimulus and create opportunity while improving the facility.”
Tweed said he supports funding repairs to the Keystone Centre because it is “a cultural centre for all of western Manitoba.”
“It’s not just an arena, but it’s a meeting place for everyone and we need to support those kinds of initiatives,” Tweed said.
It’s hard to say whether this is the beginning of a multi-phase funding program for the centre, parts of which are 40 years old. However, Tweed said a new federal infrastructure funding program is being developed, and governments have been asked to offer input on what has worked in the past and what aspects need work.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 24, 2012