East Elmwood children missed their community centre so much, they contributed to help get it rebuilt.
On Jan. 22, the City of Winnipeg and Province of Manitoba jointly announced a $5-million contribution to help East Elmwood Community Centre rise from the ashes of a fire that destroyed the original building in March 2011. In addition to the government support, students at Kent Road School raised $738.65 after selling paper bricks last May.
Student Jean Blandon is glad to see plans to rebuild the centre go forward.
"I’m pretty excited, because it was a big disappointment that it burned down," he said. "I would go there to visit and I’d be playing with all my friends."
The new centre will be approximately 10,000 square feet, an improvement on the old centre, and will feature a regulation-sized gymnasium, multipurpose rooms and an outdoor rink. The new centre will be rebuilt at Keenleyside Park, approximately two blocks northeast of the old centre, which was behind Kent Road School.
The final design of the centre is expected to be released later this year, while construction is tentatively planned to begin in 2014.
Coun. Thomas Steen (Elmwood-East Kildonan) said the new location makes sense for safety reasons and to boost use at the site.
"When they build community centres, it should be wide open," said Steen. "Kids should be seen, for safety. When they’re playing, they want to be seen playing hockey or baseball or soccer.
"If nobody’s watching, they stop doing it."
The community was consulted as to what they’d like to see in the new centre. From there, three proposals were drawn up – one worth $3.2-million, one at $5-million, and one at $7.8-million. Though the middle option is in place for now, Steen hopes to eventually have all the amenities of the third proposal in place.
Community club board member Jodi Chartrand said the centre’s absence was felt by community members, and is thrilled that time will soon come to an end.
"Two years is a long time for a community to be without a place for residents and our kids," she said. "It’s exciting that they’ll finally have a place they can look forward to going to and a place they can be kids."
The bulk of the funding ($3.2-million) is coming from the Recreation and Leisure Infrastructure Program, jointly supported by the city and the province. As well, both levels of government are contributing an additional $900,000 each.
"The initial proposal was $3-million to rebuild the club, and it was really working between the province and the city to step up and fill that gap to get the things that the community said they needed to have," said Concordia MLA Matt Wiebe.