The Keystone Centre is the largest venue of its kind in this region. There is no denying the facts of that, its footprint truly encompasses a lot of what makes up the city of Brandon.
It takes into account sports, culture, heritage, education and most importantly the building acts as an economic stimulus strategy for the region throughout the year.
As most have seen this week in the Brandon Sun, city councillors voted to support close to $1.1 million in capital investments to cover shortfalls on some of the infrastructure needs in the facility, namely the roof repairs required for areas such as the Amphitheatre and City Square facilities within the complex.
Council, in this issue was right, by most accounts to OK this money for the facility as the opportunity an entity like the Keystone Centre brings to the city outweighs some of the potential cost implications.
The investment is worth the risk, taking into account the implications of spending taxpayer dollars based on a 33-cent dollar where funding would come in thirds from all levels of government, it is easy to see the basis of your investment. It is a scenario that has been used in the past and is a commitment most levels of government are comfortable with on projects now and into the future.
With the recent events, the timing is right for some maintenance dollars to flow to the Keystone and under current management it has begun to show signs of potential profit, something the board of directors, management and staff should be commended for.
At the same time, this opens up an opportunity to begin building on the need as opposed to maintaining and hopefully in time socking some coin away for a rainy day fund or a reserve for capital expenditures.
The concept must be stressed by members of council now to their provincial and federal government counterparts to begin proactively funding solutions for capital growth in Brandon as opposed to reactive disaster management or crisis mitigation strategies.
Do not get me wrong, without these dollars flowing to operations of facilities like the Keystone they would simply cease to exist. There is no denying this fact, communities thrive by injecting positive dollars into growing the services and options available to its citizens, the Keystone being one of those options.
When you look at the laundry list of needs for the aging structure, I would hope the provincial and federal governments are looking at the Keystone as a priority for not only this region, but the entire province.
Too often a large centred mentality develops that can cripple a place like Brandon where infrastructure needs weigh heavily and the tax base pays real dollars while trying hard to play catch up with larger centers where the base is much broader.
An interesting possibility exists moving forward for all three levels of government to address an array of needs while examining the true scope of what can be done to add value to the facility. The funds are in the undertaking to address some of the infrastructure deficit in the building but what could be next and where could the facility see growth in the next 20 years?
As a side note as well, the funds allocated cover only some of the repairs but will not cover the entire list of repairs to maintain areas of the facility.
The one bonus I must say for the Keystone is public support is usually present. Brandonites easily recognize the value of the facility. Most support funding the necessary repairs as most feel the spinoff outweighed the cost, a proactive thinking concept and nice to see from many in our community.
In any case, my impetus today is thinking about how we can better our community by actively protecting and growing our investments, the Keystone being one such investment. It is a shining example of a long lasting agreement, brought upon by past members of our community looking to provide something bigger or better for the citizens of the city. The facility makes Brandon a destination, it provides cost-effective options to access year-round entertainment and it keeps Brandon among the elite crowd when attracting new events to our city.
Let’s hope we can work hard to continue to top up the pot by thinking about alternative ways to provide funds to facilities, much like the highly successful A Sense of Home campaign.
We have a unique gem here, and I hope future opportunities exist to remedy problems early and grow on opportunities to become something more, and I hope it happens before patrons require umbrellas to stroll the halls.
» Shaun Cameron is a lifelong Brandon resident. He has dabbled in politics and is no chair of Renaissance Brandon, the city’s downtown development corportation. His column appears regularly.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 20, 2012