Fundraising efforts to repair the Park Community Centre are set to begin as soon as this week, but the city has yet to make any official decisions on the building’s future.
Ken Jaworski, who started a petition in December to save the community centre, said a crowdfunding campaign is set to launch this week and the board is planning several future fundraising events, but the dates haven’t been nailed down yet.
A group of people around the province have banded together and are doing everything they can to save the building, he said.
Jaworski started the petition after City of Brandon administration brought a recommendation to Brandon City Council to permanently close and demolish the building. In its place, the city would build a green space, and activities would move to other city facilities. The building faces expensive repairs to get it back to full-capacity including on the roof and the building’s foundation.
Three options were presented for the building. Option 1 — the most expensive at $130,000 — is to renovate the structure so it could be brought back to a full capacity of hosting 143 people.
This option does not take into account other needed renovations at the building to restore it beyond how it was originally built. The report says the building needs approximately another $180,000 in repairs for mechanical/HVAC upgrades, roof repairs, electrical work and demolition of the skate shack.
Option 2 is less expensive at $60,000 to $110,000 and would repair the building to how it was originally built. This option wouldn’t bring it up to full capacity, however.
Option 3 is to demolish the building and create a community green space where it stood.
Council voted at a Dec. 16 meeting to delay the recommendation and go back to the public for consultations, but those also are still being planned.
Noel Moes, treasurer of the community centre’s board, said the board will be meeting this week to determine the next steps to save the aging centre.
"We’re kind of dealing with our planning and the city planning simultaneously," Moes said. "We’re not sure what’s going on at a city administration level yet. ... At a board level we’re pretty enthusiastic, we’ve got a lot of that energy yet for fundraising and getting more people involved."
While fundraising efforts are being planned, what happens with the building next will also depend on city budget deliberations, which are set to take place late this month and in early February, he said.
Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser), who represents the area, said city administration has been caught up in preparing for those deliberations, so public consultations on the community centre haven’t been scheduled yet. When they do happen, he said it will be important for people to go in with an open mind and for residents of the area to have a voice in the process.
"The consultation with the community should not be on what we’re going to use the green space for. The consultation needs to be on whether or not we need to let go of (the building) — that’s got to be the discussion," Desjarlais said.
He said if the city sees a way forward where the costs of repairs are not falling solely on the shoulders of city taxpayers, it is something council would look at.
The city’s previous Community Services department, which oversees community centres, was reorganized into Parks and Recreation at the beginning of the year. When reached on Friday, Perry Roque, the director of parks and recreation services, said the department wants to work with the community to move in the right direction with Park Community Centre "for all the community."
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