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Punjab centre marches forward

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A new cultural centre under construction off Route 90 has received a lot of love from city hall in recent months.


The Punjab Cultural Centre, located at 1770 King Edward Street in Brooklands, recently received $75,000 from the Lord Selkirk-West Kildonan Community Committee at its regular meeting Feb. 12.


Amarjeet S. Warraich, president of the Manitoba Sikh Cultural and Seniors Centre Inc. (MSCSC), appeared at the committee’s meeting to speak to the project, after which the committee approved the funding.


Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski), Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) and Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) put up $15,000, $50,000 and $10,000 in Community Grant Incentive funding for the project, respectively.


The funding came on the heels of other grants doled out by the city’s other community committees. City Centre approved $35,000 for the centre on Feb. 5, Riel gave $55,000 on Jan. 14 and Assiniboia gave $90,0000 on Jan. 8.


"Everybody has been very supportive," Warraich said.


Warraich also appeared before East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee on Feb. 26, obtaining $20,000 from Couns. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Thomas Steen (East Kildonan).


Warraich and others have also reached out to the Punjabi community abroad to raise money. A recent trip to Toronto, he said, raised about $100,000. The remainder of the project’s cost, he said, would come from community fundraising. With the building’s construction well  underway, Warraich expects the doors to be open by June.


"We are close to, as they say, touchdown," Warraich said.


The multimillion-dollar centre, formerly a school, has been built upon since the MSCSC purchased the property and construction got underway. Warraich said about 12,000 square feet has been added on to the building, which originally measured 37,000 square feet.


A joint project with the Punjab Foundation, the Punjab Cultural Centre will house multiple commercial storefronts, a restaurant, and spaces for seniors activities. An elevator has been added to the building for seniors’ convenience.


"This will be a place where they can have a chat, and have a restaurant at the same time," Warraich said.

Warraich said the big-ticket room will be its banquet hall, which will have a capacity of 1,000. A museum to the Punjabi culture will also be included. The point of the building, Warraich said, was to create a space where the Punjabi culture could thrive.


"This was the purpose of the building... To keep our culture alive so the youngsters can come and spend time here," he said.


But, he adds, it’s not an exclusive club— all Canadians are welcome to make use of the facility on a first-come, first-served basis.


"There’s nothing like this in North America. It’ll be a jewel in the city’s crown," he said.

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