April 9, 2020

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Punjab centre falls on hard times

Construction firm files suit claiming $184K owed

<p>The Punjab Cultural Centre at 1770 King Edward St. is looking for tenants.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Punjab Cultural Centre at 1770 King Edward St. is looking for tenants.

With a lawsuit filed in court and a for-lease sign out front, the Punjab Cultural Centre is having "some difficulties," says the Winnipeg man who’s been its champion since the idea was put forth in the late 1990s.

"We are having some trouble," said Amarjeet Warraich, president of the Manitoba Sikh Cultural and Seniors Centre, the charity that got the $8.5-million structure built on King Edward Street in 2013, with government funding, donations and a mortgage. The domed centre has a banquet hall, restaurant, passport office, daycare — and about 3,500 square feet it’s trying to lease so it can meet its financial obligations, he said.

A statement of claim that seeks $184,178 was filed Feb. 11 in Court of Queen’s Bench by the construction company that built the centre.

M Builds Limited Partnership (formerly Man-Shield) said it completed construction in 2013, and was still owed $184,178, which the Manitoba Sikh Cultural Centre and Seniors Centre and Punjab Foundation of Manitoba agreed to pay back in $25,000 monthly instalments. When that didn’t happen, in late 2015, the company and the centre came up with a repayment schedule of $5,000 per month, and agreed to register a caveat against the title to the property, court documents say. The defendants continue to refuse to make payments on the amount owing, the plaintiff’s claim states. It’s seeking the amount owed, plus eight per cent interest and costs.

No statement of defence has yet been filed.

"It will be coming," said Warraich. "We will make some arrangements to make a payment with them."

The centre is carrying a mortgage and relies on renting out space to business to cover their costs, he said. "Since the school left, we’ve had some difficulties to pay these people."

The centre had been home to a school that taught the Manitoba curriculum, as well as the Punjabi language, Sikh religion and cultural classes. When the school outgrew the space, it moved into the former Chapman School in Charleswood.

"The market is not great," Warraich said of finding a large-scale tenant. And times have changed. "In my time, when people came to Canada, the community was so close," said Warraich. "They’d have huge weddings. Nowadays, a lot of the younger generation doesn’t believe in that. Kids go to Mexico and get married."

Still, the Winnipeg community is growing and requires an affordable banquet hall with parking for cultural events and festivals, Warraich said. "There is definitely a need."

In 2016, 19,760 Manitobans said Punjabi was their mother tongue, according to Statistics Canada.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography

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