Leaking roofs at the Keystone Centre have frustrated city Coun. Murray Blight (Victoria) to the point where he called on either the city or the provincial government to deal with the chronic problem.
Blight said if there is 12 inches of snow on some metal roofs that workers have to immediately shovel them clear.
“A metal roof is not the safest thing to be on,” Blight said. “What do we have to do? Do something after the fact when it collapses?”
Blight said the problems don’t stop with the lack of repairs, noting city officials have had troubles even communicating their concerns with the other stakeholder in the Keystone Centre, the provincial government.
“When I hear that Mayor (Shari Decter Hirst) has asked questions and hasn’t heard back from the representative from the provincial government, the city manager’s made phone calls and has not received the courtesy of a returned call or a reply, and I hear the Keystone Centre’s general manager Neil Thomson get the same, it’s frustrating,” Blight said.
Blight said the next required step is for both the municipal and provincial governments to dig deep into their treasuries and find the money to deal with the problem.
“There’s no excuse,” Blight said. “Yes, I know, taxes, but it’s the centre of Brandon and it’s always, in my opinion, been a centerpiece and the golden jewel of the city. It accommodates other venues. Do we have to wait for a crisis before something’s being done?”
Keystone Centre board chairman John Macialek shares Blight’s frustration, but noted even if a cheque were cut today for the complete value of the repairs, the work couldn’t be done until after the 2013 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair because events have been booked for much of the complex. For example, it would not be possible to close areas required for the Canadian National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show to make repairs.
“We have been trying to get some funding for that the last while and it’s tough with the provincial and city financial pictures,” Macialek said. “Timing wise, we probably can’t do anything in 2012. Hopefully we get an announcement in the new year about funding for those roofs. We are working on it and got caught by the flood and the financial positions of the city and the province. It’s very frustrating.”
Macialek said alternatives have been sought, but “when the money’s not there, the money’s not there.” For that reason, the Keystone Centre has tried to generate more revenue from hosting more events and managing expenses.
“We have generated some good revenue for the facility and want there to be good momentum for the facility and more dollars,” Macialek said. “We want to get it to the point where we aren’t just in the black, but are moving forward with the facility. We’ll get there, but it would be nice to have a couple of new or repaired roofs so we wouldn’t have water laying all over the place. It will be tough to get that done, but hopefully by 2014 we’ll have the roofs repaired and a few new events taking place here.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 19, 2012