Local recipients of funding from a large federal-provincial announcement earlier this week are ready to get to work on their projects.
On Tuesday, the two governments jointly announced more than $23 million in funding for recreation and culture funding for 15 projects across Manitoba.
Of those projects, six are located in Westman and four are in Brandon.
The biggest project benefiting from the funding in the Wheat City is the multimillion-dollar outdoor sports complex destined to be built at the corner of First Street North and Veterans Way.
The other projects aren’t as big in scope, but they’re still important to the organizations receiving the funding.
At the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, $153,752 is being provided by the federal government so the venue can replace its aging loudspeaker system.
The existing speakers are the same ones that were there when it opened in 1969, auditorium general manager Tom Crook said.
"They’ve done very well for what they were used for, but any time something major comes through, there has to be a major company that’s outsourced for the sound."
Phase one of the project has already been completed, and involved getting consultants to examine what the old speakers can be replaced with and how they can be installed within the venue. Phase two will complete the work.
"We applied for (the funding) a while ago, but you never know with these grants," Crook said. "It’s like 40 per cent of the project, which is a big jump to start this off."
Crook said the WMCA will now have to raise funds to pay for the remaining 60 per cent, estimated to be around $230,628.
When installed, the new loudspeakers will be a boost for a venue that last hosted a show on March 13, 2020.
While dates aren’t set yet, Crook said the auditorium will likely host some classes in September and return to hosting live events for the public in October or November.
With all but two of the auditorium’s staff laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, Crook said they hope to hire people no later than September, depending on how public health restrictions change.
Other than the loudspeaker project, the WMCA has also been able to complete some other needed work like replacing the back doors and the wheelchair ramp.
The Riverbank Discovery Centre also benefitted from Tuesday’s announcement.
Since 2016, the installation of a canoe and kayak cove along the Assiniboine River south of the building has been part of the facility’s master plan.
With $71,781 coming in from the federal government and money from a prior grant from the Brandon Area Community Foundation, general manager James Montgomery is hoping the project will finally be finished sometime next month.
Speaking to the Sun on Wednesday, Montgomery said he’d hoped the cove would have been installed in May, but he had to wait until the federal government was ready to announce the funding.
He’s still hoping it’ll be up and running before the end of the summer.
"It’s another recreation opportunity for Brandon, which is fantastic," he said. "We’re thinking that it could also be a tourist draw as well as we have access to the Assiniboine River."
The area being used as the cove was created during a previous flood along the Assiniboine River, he said. A dock will be prepared so that visitors can either rent a canoe or kayak on site from A&L Cycle or launch their own.
"We can say thank you now to the river for carving out a chunk of what will now be the future for the riverbank," Montgomery said. "It created a vision for something else, something new and something that wouldn’t be destroyed by a future flood because we know the river wants to go that way.
One possible and accessible trip for visitors will be a journey from the cove to the east end of the riverbank grounds, which is a 45-minute to one-hour trip.
If all goes well, Montgomery hopes the riverbank can partner with the city to offer canoeing and kayaking lessons.
Montgomery, who also works for Brandon Tourism, said he was also excited for the other projects announced for Brandon and Westman.
"All these things are very good for tourism and very good for Brandon."
» Twitter: @ColinSlark