The Keystone Centre grounds could soon be transformed into the "Central Park" of Brandon after a plan was approved by the event centre’s board last week.
Coun. Bruce Luebke (South Centre) said the outdoor space around the Keystone Centre is currently underused and the idea is to make it more appealing for the public to use.
"In the Greenspace (Master) Plan for the City of Brandon it was referred to that Keystone Centre grounds could be Central Park of Brandon, and I like that concept to a certain degree, and that’s where we ended up going for a lot of it," Luebke said.
The plan is broken down into three phases covering different sections of green space on the east and south sides of the main building.
Phase one of the project covers the area south of the Provincial Exhibition’s Dome Building along 13th Street. Luebke said the hope is to add walking paths to the area and possibly some pavilions, picnic shelters, public washrooms and play structures. The Keystone Centre board is also in talks with the Brandon Urban Aboriginal People’s Council to make the area part of the Tipi Tour Legacy Project.
The plan is also to rebuild the fence along 13th Street to make the area more accessible to the public. Luebke said that might mean adding in more gates to the fence or replacing it with a line of trees.
Redeveloping the Keystone Centre grounds "checks a lot of boxes," Luebke said, as it fits with the city’s Greenspace Master Plan and Recreation Facilities Master Plan.
The greenspace plan, which was unveiled in February 2015, calls for the city to enhance public use of the Keystone Centre event grounds.
"The grounds should be redeveloped to maintain and enhance the current function as a unique event space and incorporate a landscape that supports multi-purpose, year-round use. The Keystone Centre site should be viewed as a focus of the community, appear park-like from the perimeter and function like a Central Park," the plan reads.
It could also serve as a space for new immigrants to Brandon to gather and hold events.
Phase two of the plan covers the area north of and behind the Dome Building, up to the pool on the grounds. The idea is again to improve the greenspace, possibly with a theme honouring the agricultural roots of Brandon.
"Right now there’s a lot of ideas and things we’ve put into place on what it can be used for," Luebke said.
Phase three involves the area near the intersection of Richmond Avenue and 18th Street. Luebke said the third phase is more longterm and complex because of parking needs in that corner of the property.
"It could be greenspace, recreation, lots of opportunities there for other things if we get to that point. But generally we’ve left it open to be discussed once phases one and two are complete or nearly complete," he said
When reached on Wednesday, Perry Roque, the city’s director fo community services, said he hadn’t yet heard about the plan to redevelop the Keystone Centre grounds and couldn’t comment.
With the South End Community Centre slated to be demolished, Luebke said he hopes a redeveloped greenspace at the Keystone Centre can help fill that void in the community.
"We wouldn’t have buildings per se, but almost like an area for people in that neighbourhood, that ward to enjoy outdoor opportunities and recreation opportunities," Luebke said.
He hopes to see work on phase one of the plan begin in the spring or summer next year.
"Even if we can get more access for the public to the existing space without actually having any work done would be an accomplishment but I’m hopeful we’ll see work done in that area next year."
The Keystone Centre board still has to secure funding for the proposed work on the grounds. Luebke said there are grants available through Manitoba 150 that could be used, but it is in the hands of the city and Keystone administration to work out.
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