It has been a noteworthy week in your community with the grand opening of Murray House, a residence for rural Manitobans in Brandon receiving treatment at the Western Manitoba Cancer Treatment Centre.
As a co-chair of the capital campaign, also known as “A Sense of Home,” I would like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend Laurie Murray, my co-chair, for her tireless work and dedication to this important cause.
We had a great team, including Lauren Hiltner, Brian Cottom and especially Karen Chrest. What a terrific group of people!
The community rallied together, in ways large and small, to make this dream a reality, and in a few short days, Murray House will be accepting patients and their families.
The success of our campaign, and the widespread community support, led me to start thinking about what Brandonites can do when we put our minds to it.
One cause, distant from Murray House in function, is that of our (currently underwater) soccer pitches on First Street.
For two of the last four years, the soccer fields on First Street have been flooded, thus rendering them completely unplayable. Even in non-flood years, the damage to the grass fields has reportedly made play impossible.
Given that several thousand Westman children play soccer, this is a fairly significant issue in our city. As a relatively inexpensive sport that appeals to so many, we should as a community be thinking about possible solutions to this problem.
(By the way, kids aren’t the only people who play soccer. We also have a soccer players of all ages who are facing the same issue of flooded fields).
According to golfers in our community, reports about the Rec Centre municipal golf course have been very positive. The city took a number of steps to shore up the dikes and, in doing so, have greatly helped Wheat City duffers.
While I’m not a golfer — and those who have golfed with me can attest to that — recreational facilities like golf courses are important to the long-term wealth and health of a community. The same is true of soccer pitches that don’t require scuba gear.
I understand the city cannot easily dike the existing soccer complex due to the proximity of the rail yards across the river. Water seeks the course of least resistance, and a dike on one side of the Assiniboine would push the slow-moving “high water event” to flood the rail tracks. So that’s probably one solution that wouldn’t work.
Perhaps another strategy would be the creation of a team of well-intentioned private individuals and companies, combined with city staff, and given the mandate to either fix what we have now or find a more suitable location. With the hotel tax proceeds rolling in, it appears we have a wonderful opportunity to combine need with ability.
If managed properly, with a mandate to find a public-private solution to the soccer field dilemma, this problem could present a great opportunity to our city.
Just as we host baseball and hockey tournaments in Brandon, we could similarly host soccer tournaments.
By inviting teams from distant communities, we meet multiple objectives — creating economic spinoffs throughout the city, keeping children and teens focused on healthy lifestyles, and engaging in positive community growth.
Just as Murray House will be a longstanding monument dedicated to the love and care community members in Westman have for each other, so too could be a new soccer complex. Our community deserves it.