Shovels finally went into the ground on Friday afternoon to mark the start of construction on the new Southeast Event Centre in Steinbach.
Kelvin Goertzen, MLA for Steinbach, says there was a feeling of euphoria at the sod-turning ceremony.
“It's been looked at for so many years by so many people, so many different proposals, so many different councils, so many different MLA’s, so many different MP's... and all of them had a role in getting to today,” he says. “It's not that they weren't successful, all those people who were working on this for the last 15 or 20 years, they're all successful in getting us to this point even if the vision has changed along the way. But without people advocating for this over the last couple of decades, this doesn't happen. So, I’m euphoric that it's happening.”
While the plans and the vision changed over the years, the anticipated cost of the project also changed.
“A lot of it was simply inflation, a lot of it was plans sort of changed and you just have different visions for certain things,” Goertzen says. “But there's no question that there have been significant, more than $20 million, increase of the original price.”
He credits the private sector and the city for stepping up and finding a way to make this project a reality. Goertzen says they have also approached the federal government to request some additional funding to cover some of the extra, unexpected costs.
“They haven't come to the table yet,” he reports. “But I think there are other ways to support municipalities that can be seen in other times when it comes to budget time, so let those announcements happen at that time.”
Goertzen says this brand-new facility will serve the community and region in many ways.
“I’m excited for young people who are going to be able to go to a new building and make their own memories, and people are going to be able to play here and watch events here, and graduations and everything else that is going to happen,” he says. “It's not just an arena, it's going to be a community hub.”
Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk says it is great to be able to construct this new event centre in the downtown part of the city.
He credits previous councils for having the vision of creating a downtown that would be a destination for many people.
Funk also expresses appreciation for each person who worked hard on this project and says it is great to see this day has finally arrived.
“The groundbreaking for me is really exciting because it’s the start— we’re finally starting,” he says. “We’re going to be able to turn the sod over and this project is moving forward.”
To make way for the new building, the Centennial Arena will have to be demolished this year.
“It is bittersweet seeing that the old Centennial Arena will be gone, but we will be using key components out of it, and we will be fitting them into the new arena,” Funk says. “So, there might be benches made out of the rafters, so to speak, that kind of stuff. So, we want to reuse things in this arena, things that mean something and have sentimental value to the community.”
Grant Lazaruk, President of the Southeast Event Group, says it feels great to finally get the shovels in the ground, and to have so many people brave the cold for this event.
He says this is truly a facility for the entire community.
“It’s our place,” he says, with emphasis on ‘our’. “It’s our place to gather. We want it inclusive, and we want it affordable. And the different parts of this center are going to allow for that. So, we're excited about what the center is going to do for the community.”
Lazaruk appreciates the many people who have put in a lot of work to get this project to the point of getting the shovels in the ground.
“There’s been a lot of people putting effort towards it,” he says. “And it just feels good to get to a point where we can all be proud of what we've achieved, and move to this next chapter of a place for all of us to get together and be proud of.”
The brand-new Southeast Event Centre will be located in downtown Steinbach and will replace the Steinbach Centennial Arena.
The multi-use facility will connect to the existing community plaza, T.G. Smith Arena, Steinbach Curling Club, and theatre.
Physical construction of the facility is set to begin this month and the anticipated completion date for the project is November of 2024.
In 2021, the Government of Canada and Province of Manitoba announced a combined funding contribution of up to $17.5 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). At time of project approval, the estimated total project cost of the Southeast Event Centre was $42.5 million.
In November of 2022, Steinbach City Council awarded the Southeast Event Centre construction contract to Graham Construction and Engineering Inc., with an updated estimated total project cost of $66.2 million.
Through a combination of reserve funds, operating funds and debt, the City will provide funding for the facility of $23.2 million, with the remaining $25.5 million expected to come from private and community fundraising coordinated by the Southeast Events Group Inc.