After an announcement in April that Renaissance Brandon would go through a renaissance of its own, details remain sparse on how the downtown development corporation will change its operations.
Ren Brandon’s downtown development specialist, Braden Pilling, said a working group has wrapped up meetings and it’s now up to council to discuss the possible changes.
What those changes will be, however, are still unknown.
Recommendations by the working group made up of board members and some councillors were expected to hit the council chambers this month after it was initially delayed due to the historic summer flood.
Now, Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) said the funding issue won’t likely be addressed until at least next year, but the working group will bring forward some recommendations around governance to council in the coming weeks, which will include changes to the roles of the board and politicians.
The development corporation’s goal to emulate its Winnipeg counterpart, CentreVenture, isn’t likely to happen. Fawcett claims the province’s Municipal Act stops Ren Brandon from filing for a city-backed line of credit — an influx of cash that would allow the development corporation to take on bigger, more lucrative projects to carry out its mandate.
"We were looking at models from Winnipeg and we just don’t have the ability to do that," Fawcett said. "We ran into roadblocks that were really delaying from bringing things forward."
Pilling said a line of credit is the "easiest, most flexible" way to get more cash without affecting the city budget.
"Inside the Municipal Act, we’re unable to do what Winnipeg does with CentreVenture," said Fawcett, one of three city councillors on the working committee.
The other two, Len Isleifson (Riverview) and Stephen Montague (Richmond) will not be returning to the council chambers in October following the municipal election.
"There’s still stuff we’re working on," Fawcett said.
He added there will be delays since the province is set to be involved in how Ren Brandon will operate in the future, including a push to make it apolitical.
"Funding wise, it’s pretty much status quo," Fawcett said and he expects the city to provide the same level of funding it has in recent years, $250,000 matched by the province. "We spent a lot of time looking at other options ... but nothing we're going to bring forward."
Meanwhile, the only plot of downtown land owned by Ren Brandon, the site of the former Brandon Inn, is still awaiting recommendations from an environmental assessment by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship after gas was found in the soil earlier this year.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 29, 2014