The Punjab Cultural Centre is not the first ethnocultural space that’s struggled to make ends meet in Winnipeg.
The Indian and Métis Friendship Centre fell into political disarray in 2017, and closed its doors before being damaged by vandals in 2019.
In 2013, the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba — for the second time since it opened in 2004 — fell well behind on payments to the city, in lieu of municipal property taxes for the structure built on city-owned land.
In 2005, Centro Caboto racked up a $669,000 tab for unpaid roadwork and surfacing fees related to the Italian hall’s original lease agreement with the city, signed in 1997. The debt was retired by 2006.
The Winnipeg Chinese Cultural & Community Centre has faced challenges as its membership moved to the south side of the city from downtown, a spokeswoman for the Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba said.
“When it was established, most Chinese people were living in that area,” said Jennifer Chen.
Changing demographics and governments less willing to fund cultural centre projects are a challenge as more and more newcomers are required to keep Manitoba’s population from shrinking, said the Winnipeg School Division trustee who immigrated from China.
“When moving to a new country, refugees and immigrants often feel isolated,” she said. “A community centre serves the purpose for meeting people, making friends” and maintaining a cultural identity.
— Carol Sanders