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$5 million for Steinbach's performing arts centre: province

By: Ian Froese

Posted: 01/15/2016 11:15 AM

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Culture and Heritage Minister Ron Lemieux handed $5 million toward the construction of Steinbach's planned performance arts centre to mayor Chris Goertzen during an announcement Friday morning.

IAN FROESE | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Culture and Heritage Minister Ron Lemieux handed $5 million toward the construction of Steinbach's planned performance arts centre to mayor Chris Goertzen during an announcement Friday morning.

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The head of the Steinbach Arts Council believed the province would fund a portion of the planned performing arts centre, but she was pleasantly surprised by what was promised Friday.

"Not in this magnitude. This is huge for us," said Cindi Rempel Patrick, SAC’s executive director.

"They could have dumped a million here, sure, but five?" she said. "I'm just amazed."

Ron Lemieux, the minister responsible for tourism and culture, exceeded Rempel Patrick’s expectations and surely many other project supporters when he promised $5 million toward a performing arts centre, the next phase of the city’s multiplex plan.

The amount is believed to be the largest contribution the province has ever pledged to a city-driven initiative in Steinbach.

"This is a good day for Steinbach in so many ways," said Rempel Patrick. "An amount of this magnitude from our provincial government for a project like this, that’s just amazing."

Steinbach mayor Chris Goertzen did not receive a heads-up of what the funding announcement would be before Lemieux handed him the letter Friday. He was simply told to await the arrival of Dawson Trail’s MLA at city hall.

"Getting the additional $5 million dollars towards the capital costs of this project certainly is welcome but it was a pleasant surprise this morning," he said.

Steinbach city council last summer capped their contribution to the performing arts centre at $7.5 million when they chose the facility as their next recreation project, which one day is expected to also include a new arena and fieldhouse. The city said they would not begin construction on the performing arts centre without at least 50 per cent funding from other levels of government or private donors.

Rempel Patrick said she is optimistic the federal government will assist on the costs.

"We know lagoons are important, we know roads are important but the fact of the matter is there’s the quality of life piece a facility like this provides," said Lemieux. "I think it sends a strong message out to the community and to others that culture, the arts, sport, all of those things, lead to a great quality of life."

Lemieux said funding for this project came from the $325 million Growing Communities Fund, announced late last year, which includes funding for recreation projects. He added the fund could be created as a result of the government’s one per cent PST increase.

Updated write-thru: Jan. 15, 5:10 p.m.

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