GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
The International Peace Garden, located at the Boissevain border crossing into Dunseith, N.D. wants to become a year-around attraction and include a hotel and conference centre.
The International Peace Garden is waiting for the province to match funds approved by the North Dakota government to address a dire need for sewer and water repair.
In a recent sitting of the state legislature, North Dakota pledged $1.5 million if its Canadian counterparts shell out cash as well.
"Our request came in just before the provincial budget was announced," said CEO Doug Hevenor. "The request went in on March 4 for that amount."
Conservation and Water Stewardship minister Gord Mackintosh said in a letter he will review the request, but didn’t specify a timeline.
The stateside grant has an expiry date of mid-2015 if Manitoba doesn’t follow suit.
"If we don’t get the capital funding to do this, we have to make the repair anyway," Hevenor said. "We either have to borrow money to do it, or we have to reduce the service we provide on the property."
That would likely mean staff and maintenance reductions.
Peace Garden provides water treatment and sewage to United States Department of Agriculture, the duty-free shop and customs buildings on both sides of the border, according to Hevenor.
Along with the estimated $3-million water project, work to help mitigate water damage to the base of the 120-foot high Peace Towers is expected to be complete in the summer.
The funded $125,000 project will address rotting concrete, which has been falling off the base between the towers and in some spots, the rebar is showing, which prompted safety concerns.
An additional $250,000 is estimated to repair the landscape at the base of the tower as well.
"We’re so far out of the realm of what they (the governments) do, that they have to find some type of funding we fit into," Hevenor said. "We’re not a community, we’re not a municipality, we’re in the middle, that’s how it’s always been."
Manitoba maintains an annual commitment through a grant of approximately $380,000 to the International Peace Garden through conservation and water stewardship, according to a government spokesperson.
Meanwhile, administration of the International Peace Garden, the symbol of peace between the United States and Canada, has lofty goals to make the park a year-around destination.
The park, located at the Boissevain border crossing into Dunseith, N.D., has priced out the long-term possibility of building a hotel, a peace and conflict resolution centre and infrastructure to support those buildings, including sewage, increased power supply and high-speed internet access.
To amp up the park’s revenue stream, it will cost $58 million, according to Hevenor, ideally split four ways between the two federal governments, the province and the state.
"In the past, if you came down here after the Labour Day weekend, nobody takes any money from you at the gate, you can’t buy anything on the property, you can’t buy a souvenir, so essentially the revenue stream is none."
Cash requests for the long-term projects aren’t coming out of left field, Hevenor said, since it’s the final part of a three-phase-project.
"At the start of it, we said there are three phases, we’re just reiterating the final phase."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 10, 2014