'They're not giving up': Winnipeggers to fight funding cut for Kelvin school gym, says trustee

Shock has turned to determination for residents of Winnipeg's Crescentwood neighbourhood after the Manitoba government abruptly cut millions of dollars in promised funding for a gymnasium upgrade at Kelvin High School.

Concerned residents are meeting at the school on Monday evening to discuss their next steps for the $6.7-million gym project, which already has $1.2 million in community fundraising, says Winnipeg School Division trustee Mark Wasyliw.

"They're not giving up, and I think the community is going to keep trying to convince this government that this was a terrible decision, to rethink it," Wasyliw said in an interview.

Provincial funding for the $6.7-million, 17,000-square-foot gym addition had been pledged to Kelvin High School by the former NDP government.

However, the project was not included in the current Progressive Conservative government's list of 72 approved infrastructure renewal projects.

A sports field rehabilitation project that was slated for Dakota Collegiate was also left off the government's list.

Wasyliw said members of the Kelvin and Dakota school communities have been talking with each other about the funding cut, which he said has sparked a range of emotions since it was announced late last week.

"There was no warning that this was going to happen. There was no discussion with the community to say, 'You know, could we put this off for a few years?' It just came out of nowhere Friday afternoon," he said.

"On Friday it was shock, and then when I started hearing from people over the weekend it became disappointment, and then it felt like anger and betrayal. And now I'm hearing from the community resolve to keep fighting to make sure this project happens."

Wasyliw said it's currently not known what will happen to the Kelvin gym project, or to the $1.2 million that people have raised through the fundraising campaign.

"It's up in the air right now," he said.

"They may have to give it back to those that funded it, or they could hold off if we could get sort of response from the government that they're just delaying the construction or just cancelling the project outright."

In announcing the approved projects, Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart said the health and safety of Manitoba students and teachers must be prioritized.

The projects going forward include necessary health and safety-related infrastructure upgrades to roofing, mechanical systems and accessibility, the province said in a news release.