Community projects underway across Westman

·4 min read

Tails are wagging down at the Brandon Retriever Club thanks to a fresh release of provincial funds the organization will use to keep dogs and their owners safe.

One of several Westman projects to benefit from provincial funding announced Tuesday, the Brandon Retriever Club plans to use its share to install a fence at the front of its property.

“We have people who camp on the campground nearby, and they have little kids and dogs. And of course, we train dogs all the time, and we’ve had a couple of incidents where the dogs have gone out on the road,” club treasurer Dawne McKenzie said. “Cars can come over the hill and not have a chance of stopping, so it’s more of a safety issue.”

On Tuesday, the province announced it was investing more than $25 million through the Building Sustainable Communities program to support 428 community development projects across Manitoba.

The Brandon Retriever Club, located south of Brandon, includes three parcels of land where club members run field trails, training and exercises for their retriever-breed dogs. Non-hunting breeds are also welcome for exercise purposes.

The group will use the $4,808 it received from the province to install the fence, something members have wanted to do for a long time, especially since last year when a dog was almost hit by a car, McKenzie said.

Another group that can cross an item off its to-do list thanks to $75,000 in funding is Brandon Seniors for Seniors, which intends to use the money to pave the grounds surrounding its seniors centre on Park Avenue East.

Executive director Rob Lavin said the project will make the grounds safer for clients with mobility issues and hopefully encourage more people to use the centre.

“There’s probably seniors today that would love to come to our facility to participate in some of the programs and services that we offer, however, based on mobility issues, may not have been able to do so,” Lavin said.

The United Way in Brandon will use $53,450 from the province to create a wellness program for people who work in the social services sector to help them cope with the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re wanting to make sure that we are taking care of those social service workers as well as to try to help prevent burnout and fatigue,” said United Way executive director Cynamon Mychasiw. The United Way hasn’t started planning for the program yet, so Mychasiw didn’t have any additional details at press time.

Elsewhere in the Wheat City the BSC program delivered: $27,976 to the Brandon Gun Club for improvements; $75,000 for the Brandon Minor Baseball Association for ballpark upgrades; $57,287 for an expansion for a creative space at the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation; and $73,434 for the purchase of new fitness equipment at the Brandon YMCA.

Across Westman, 79 community programs and facilities also received funding, including the Dauphin and District Snowmobile Club, which will use $67,987 to build a storage facility.

The club has acquired a lot of equipment over the years and needs a place to store it, said president Murray Lennartz.

“The storage facility is very much needed. The grant is a great thing,” Lennartz said. “We’ve actually been working on doing something for the last couple of years and were just waiting to get enough money saved up. It’s great that the funding came through for that.”

Dauphin and District Handivan will use $71,394 from the province to buy a new handivan, co-ordinator Lori Bremner said.

Handivans, which are used to transport seniors and people who have mobility challenges to attend appointments or run errands, rack up miles very quickly, and so the new vehicle will help the service remain reliable, Bremner said.

“We want safe transit for all our clients,” Bremner said. “I’m just so excited about getting this money from the province. It’s going to help so much.”

Locally developed projects are important to the province of Manitoba because they are tailored to address their community’s specific needs, Municipal Relations Minister Andrew Smith said in a press release Tuesday.

“Our government is pleased to continue supporting community-based projects that foster thriving, sustainable neighbourhoods and improve residents’ quality of life,” he said.

Since its launch in 2019, the BSC program has provided more than $82 million to support 1,745 community projects throughout Manitoba. The grant program supports planning activities, organizational capacity building projects, equipment costs, capital infrastructure and other local or regional initiatives that enhance the sustainability of communities.

BSC projects can receive up to 50 per cent toward eligible costs. The maximum grant for projects in the regular stream is $75,000, while larger-scale capital projects can receive up to $300,000. Approved projects, except for planning activities, are required to have a minimum of 10 per cent of funding from non-government sources.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun