Sod turned on Meridian Exhibition Centre

Karina Bueckert snaps a selfie with fellow councillors and others in front of the board showing the new facility.

Share Adjust Comment Print

After six years of planning the sod was turned on the Meridian Exhibition Centre, Nov. 29.
Winkler councillors and officials joined other project stakeholders to turn the sod and celebrate the beginning of construction of the 23,000 sq. ft. facility.
The expansion will add a second arena and a turfed area, and will include a walking track and room to host much larger events.
While the city is going ahead with construction, they do not have many partners at this time.
Meridian has purchased the naming rights for the facility for $1.25 million, but federal and provincial grants for the $20 million facility are not currently available.
“We’ve been looking for opportunities to partner with federal or provincial government over the last number of years,” Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said. “We waited until the federal government announced there was going to be recreation money available, however that recreation money for Manitoba’s portion is $61 million over the next 10 years. This facility is $20 million.”
The city will continue to look for grants, and Harder said there is the option of more sponsors for different parts of the facility.
However Harder said he believes Winkler should take the lead on paying for the facility.
“When you look at this type of facility, I think it’s incumbent upon the communities that have these kind of facilities that they are also carrying the biggest portion of the burden,” he said.
“The city’s finances are such that we can afford to carry this load, and the interest rates are such that we can fix them for 20 years, so we have a stable expenditure.”
Taxes will rise as a result and Harder said he hopes to have the cost listed as a separate line on property tax bills.
“I want to make sure that it’s clear on the tax bill,” he said. “It’s going to be based on assessment.”
Harder said this project will supply a space for bigger events. He said it’s tough for a large business to host a Christmas party, or for larger shows like farm shows and industrial shows to take place. “There’s no facility around that’s big enough,” he said.
Harder said the location is perfect for the facility, which is surrounded by other city owned recreational sites such as the pool, park, baseball diamonds and outdoor stage.
“If you look at all the facilities we have in place today, this will be the gem that will make everything else flow,” he said.
The project is expected to take 16 to 18 months, with a projected opening date of Spring 2020.

Winkler Mayor Martin Harder.