Kelvin Goertzen
News from Steinbach

Many Manitobans know that southeast Manitoba is a fast-growing region of the province. Home to our third largest city, Steinbach, it continues to attract new residents from around Canada and around the world.

And while growth can be positive in many ways, it is sometimes difficult to ensure that infrastructure and facilities keep up with that growth. As just one example, for many years now, local graduations and other large events and banquets that otherwise would have been held in Steinbach have been instead held in other places, often Winnipeg. This is because Steinbach simply doesn’t have a meeting place large enough to host these events. The growth of the City of Steinbach has literally outgrown some of its recreational infrastructure.

This was actually foreseen many years ago and successive City of Steinbach councils and area representatives tried to develop plans to address the problem. Much of the discussion centered around replacing Steinbach’s Centennial Arena which, as the name would suggest, was opened in 1967 to mark Canada’s 100th year as a nation. It’s more than 50 years of service was appreciated, but its age was showing.

The years of planning and desire for a new arena and events centre for Steinbach finally paid dividends on July 26, 2021, when municipal, provincial and federal funding was committed for a complex that would ultimately have a price tag of around $70 million. However, the real story is that tens of millions of dollars of private funding was being committed to ensure that this long-awaited facility became a reality. Much of this effort was led by Hylife Foods, headquartered in Steinbach but an employer of many Manitobans across the province. In many ways, the story of the new Southeast Events Centre (as it would come to be known) really mirrors much of the development of the southeast. It required a great deal of hard work and planning, and then ultimately it was only possible because of the generosity of local business owners and residents.

Last year the old Centennial Arena was demolished to make way for the new facility. And, like any community building that held so many memories for local residents, its demolition brought mixed emotions. It was easy to look ahead with excitement for the new facility that would rise in its place, but it was also a reminder of the many memories that were made in the old arena. But, like every generation, it is important to prepare a place for the next generations to make their own memories. Because those memories are what builds and sustains communities.

Today, almost three years since the announcement, the new Southeast Events Centre is well under construction with completion expected later this year. When finished, the centre will have a 2,400-seat spectator arena that can hold about 4,000 for concerts and events. As well, a multi-use hall/gymnasium and atrium will make this a true gathering place for southeast Manitoba. It will be one of the best and most modern facilities of its kind outside of the City of Winnipeg and will be an anchor of a burgeoning entertainment area in downtown Steinbach.

This is the story of one facility in one community in one region of our province. But it is reflective of the efforts of communities across Manitoba. We need to ensure that our towns and cities have good jobs and services like healthcare, but we also need to ensure there are places to gather, to celebrate, to cheer, to reflect and sometimes to grieve. In a world that is more connected digitally than ever, we struggle to sometimes know the very people we live next to or within our own neighborhood.

The Southeast Event Centre in Steinbach will, when it opens, be a new place where Manitobans can connect with each other and help build a greater sense.