Keystone Centre Board member Garth Rice said while the $3.3 million offered by three levels of government for repairs helps, the facility needs a long-term capital funding plan.
“It would be a concern to think that this could be a one-off deal that we don’t see these partners coming to us again for the next 10 years because then we’d see the building fall further into decline,” said Rice, who is also the Brandon city councillor for the South Centre ward, on Thursday. “We are really looking at shoring up some long-term arrangement, which is ideal for the Keystone Centre. These one-off deals fit into certain programs and we are happy that they do. But we are looking for a longer-term arrangement.”
The $3.3 million is being funded by the federal, provincial and Brandon municipal governments, each who are responsible for providing $1.1 million for the project. While the Keystone Centre board is still not authorized by the provincial government to fully disclose their plans to spend the money, it must be spent by March 31, 2013, under the terms of the funding programs. Keystone Centre general manager Neil Thomson was “thrilled” to hear the money was headed Brandon’s way.
“The work done by the board previously to get a five-year capital program helped us come to the table fairly quickly in being able to access those funds,” Thomson said.
“We think it’s great that people at different levels of government are willing to step up to the plate and put some funds into the Keystone.”
Rice said the practical considerations of construction during winter months meant some pressing needs have to wait for warmer temperatures. They include the south-side staircase leading to Westman Place.
“We know going into this time of year that it’s pretty iffy to pour quality concrete and have it good for future years, so that doesn’t fit into the program at this time,” Rice said. “We are going to need future funding for things like the roof and the completion of the south stairs and a few other life-safety issues around the building that just didn’t fit into that short timeframe.”
Instead, the repair work will be done indoors, and the higher-priority needs will be met. Rice said roof repairs will still be needed at the City Square Arena, the Brandon Curling Club and other roofs after this money is spent, but that amphitheatre will be repaired.
“When you look at a 40-year building, we are tackling one-quarter of the needs with that,” Rice said.
Rice said there will be other federal infrastructure programs rolled out after 2014 and there have been consultations with municipal politicians from across the country about that proposed plan.
“We just want to make sure that plan follows quickly and addresses the capital needs for this building,” Rice said. “We can round that figure and say we have a $10 million (infrastructure) deficit. We just put $3.3 million towards that and we have a five-year capital plan. That’s a need within the next two years. I don’t see it rolling that quickly, but hopefully the federal, provincial and municipal partners keep that mind and always plan for funding for the Keystone.”
Thomson said the Keystone Centre has asked the provincial and Brandon municipal governments to include funding for the facility as line items in their annual budgets, rather than providing money in the form of less stable grants, because the age of the 40-year-old centre will mean infrastructure will break down more frequently.
“It is a facility that’s extremely large and needs constant repairs and maintenance in order to stay competitive in the marketplace and to provide services to western Manitoba,” Thomson said.
While Keystone Centre deficits are to be covered, half by the province and the other half by the City of Brandon, Thomson wants to work with the facility’s funders to ensure the maintenance needs and repairs are continuously addressed.
“In our five-year capital plan, we talked about $10 million,” Thomson said. “That’s for repairs, maintenance and wear and tear on basic components of the building,” Thomson said. “We have to demonstrate that we are being very careful with the funds that are invested in the facility and that we have the ability to break even.”
Thomson said the centre’s annual meeting on Nov. 15 will help the board demonstrate that it has been fiscally responsible with the funds given to them by its partners, and that the 2011-12 financial information will be released at that time. He added that the release of an economic impact study will help the Keystone Centre’s case for acquiring more funds.
“We think that becomes a clear example of how levels of government can make an investment and create economic activities and benefits for Brandon businesses and for the community at large.”
LONGTIME BOARD MEMBER RESIGNS
Yesterday, longtime Brandon volunteer George McLeod has attended his final Keystone Centre meeting as a board member, resigning because he plans to spend more time travelling, he said.
While his resignation does not take effect until the Keystone Centre’s annual meeting on Nov. 15, McLeod won’t be there because he will be in Mesa, Ariz.
“My wife and I are spending more time away during winter months and the quality of people on this board is excellent,” said McLeod, who has been a board member since 2008. “I think I’m leaving here with the Keystone Centre in excellent hands. I find myself in meetings with nothing to add because they are on top of their game.”
McLeod said for that reason, he decided it was time for a change, and that change means his departure.
“I think fresh blood will generate fresh ideas,” McLeod said.
Keystone Centre board chairman John Macialek presented McLeod with a gift for his years of service to the board at yesterday’s meeting.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 26, 2012