City, consultants hear ideas regarding future of Pepsi Centre

Chris Quigley
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There are no immediate solutions, but Tuesday night’s public meeting regarding the future of the Pepsi Centre offered a few firm first steps in the process.

Responsible for the major maintenance and capital improvements for the facility, the City of Corner Brook contracted a consultancy service — Mott MacDonald —  to review the feasibility of such renovations. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for user groups and other interested parties to voice their concerns and ideas on the present and future of the 17-year-old facility.

“It was great to hear from community members, from council, from the stakeholders of this building,” said Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association president Cara-Leigh Wyllie.

The forum was divided into four topics — strengths of the building, current challenges, ideal future needs and threats that would prevent those ideal needs. Through it all, there was very little in the way of surprising suggestions — most of it had likely been heard around the city before, but not by the hired consultants until this point.

Wyllie believes the fact that a meeting seeking public opinion took place at all was reason for optimism.

“We have to think positive,” she said. “This is our community centre and we want to make it work for many groups for years to come.”

Humber Community YMCA CEO Christine Young said she came to the meeting as more of a listener, to hear what the community’s views were on the usage of the building. She thought the conversation was a little weighted towards sport and not community recreation overall, but still felt it was kept fairly balanced.

“Showing an interest in getting community feedback is certainly a great first step in determining the best way for this to contribute and help recreation in Corner Brook,” she said.

Whether that could involve the YMCA’s presence in the future, Young couldn’t say.

“That could be determined,” she said. “I think a lot will depend on the report that’s put together by the consultants.”

Most of the discussion revolved around how to best use the already available space in the Pepsi Centre and Pepsi Studio, though other offerings varied from establishing a restaurant in the mostly-empty upstairs area of the main building to the construction of a swimming pool.

Safety hazards, necessary technological advances in purchasing event tickets and even the “utilitarian” atmosphere of the structure were also brought up, but the majority seemed to be in agreement the building needs to house a major tenant.

“The idea of a tenant doesn’t necessarily have to be a sports tenant,” said Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender at the end of the meeting. “It could be a child-care space, a doctor’s office, a suite of offices ... whatever it is, to have that consistent revenue.”

Of course, it’s all conjecture until the consultant’s report is complete, which actually shouldn’t take all that long, according to Leon Higgins.

“We’re going to move rapidly,” said the divisional director with Mott MacDonald. “We’ve been asked to come up with some output by the end of the month.”

He cautions his company’s job is strictly to file the report. The difficult part comes later.

“We’re filling up a bucket, we don’t know what the budget is the city has yet,” he said. “We’ll have to come up with a menu and they’ll set the priorities on the menu with things to pick off first.

“There will be a joint vision coming out of that, I hope, that addresses the needs that we’re hearing.”

Pender echoed those comments, saying the city will have to base all decisions on available money and which renovations or improvements are deemed reasonable. Then it becomes an issue of how to phase those changes in.

But the first stage in any of that was Tuesday night’s meeting.

“It’s like a ‘Field of Dreams’ — build it and they will come,” Pender said. “Well, we built it, it’s here. Now we want to know, is there something else we can do to get more people to come?”

Organizations: Pepsi Centre, YMCA, Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • John
    March 15, 2014 - 07:03

    Too bad the city (the community) cannot simply "claim" the next school that closes. (School populations are not rising.) Therein, a gymnasium, various rooms for identified user groups, admin offices, parking, etc. are in place for a community recreational and wellness center. Maybe its time for the small town of Corner Brook to start thinking like a small town should, instead of mega-projects to serve small town needs. If you build it "too big", you need someone "big" to come help pay for it. How can you afford it? Who pays? The Royals could afford Humber Gardens most years, minor hockey could afford the Humber Gardens/Kinsmen Center most years. Can either afford The Pepsi Centre? Surely this was discussed with expensive consulting and engineering firms, no? Is it time to mow down another corn field and build something else impractical? Think first. Don't up-size when the population is downsizing. You'll have one junior high school soon enough - look around.

  • Citizen
    March 12, 2014 - 20:23

    The center is for sports not, doctors office and daycare centres that is totally absurd, first of all they need to get rid of mgmt and yes the city take over the center. They need a major tenant like getting royals back there, offer them a deal they can't refuse, secondly advertise space to groups and organizations, for things such as floor hockey, volleyball, soccer, roller skating or roller blading, give teens something to do in the summer, even offer a couple of dances in the summer for the teens, the center needs something to draw in people all year round,

  • Zippy
    March 12, 2014 - 15:42

    What concerns me is that the consultant is a facilities engineer consultant, NOT a recreation/sports consultant. How can you have a community forum about a multi-sport/purpose facilities led by a engineer and not a recreation/sports consultant. The fact that people discussed restaurants, day-care and non-sports/rec ideas tells me that the City has no clue what they're doing when it comes to rec and sports in this community. Of course all the stakeholders attended, they wanted to hear what other will say as they fight for their own space and time at the Pepsi Centre. To improve it: Step 1: Eliminate the Western Sports & Entertainment Board Step 2: City re-take over the operation of the PC over from Grenfell/Memorial Step 3: Make it a full-fledge community rec/sport centre Step 4: Hire management who know and understand recreation, sports, wellness and can work with all user groups

    • elane
      March 12, 2014 - 20:26

      Zippy. you just put the puck in the net . You are so right on all three points. . Way to go.

  • SayWhat
    March 12, 2014 - 11:20

    The Pepsi Centre was dead before construction even started. The cost cutting modifications made it impossible to attract a major tenant even before the 1999 Canada Winter Games took place. A sports and entertainment facility is a reflection of its community. The Pepsi Centre's decline is a reflection of Corner Brook's decline. To even suggest a day care centre is laughable. I guess there would have to be a name change to Western Sports and Entertainment and Baby Sitting Service. Last night can be summed up in one out..laughable. But would you expect anything more from that back stabbing little hovel.

  • Henry
    March 12, 2014 - 10:48

    Build it and they will come. Sounds like a field of nightmares not dreams Mayor Pender. It was my understanding that only 50 people took part in this exercise and were likely already tennents and or sports. I don't think this really represents the city at large. I hope this does not mean a new round of expenditures paid for by the taxpayer into a black hole.....

  • elane
    March 12, 2014 - 09:17

    It s a wonderful place and we all let it fall to the waste side. The biggest problem up there is the management. They are not approachable . We ran the Junior Royals and had to go to Deer Lake for our last year. It was a constant fight up there. We would bring in a team from out of town and it would be terrible. The workers would help you but they could only do what they could do . The management would have the Key. You couldn't operate the sound systm because someone else had the key. It was a road block every time you would book the ice . Get rid of the management up there now . You can't run a business with no interpersonal skills . Talk to the people .

  • Fred
    March 12, 2014 - 08:31

    How much is the Curling Rink adding to the overall cost of the Pepsi Center???? For one thing i dont think the curling rink should of been built for about 100 or so members and only used a few months a year. If they cannot ultilize the pepsi center to its full capacity then why take on the extra cost of a curling rink. Also i like to know the cost of the outdoor skating rink at the park...I may of seen a dozen or so people on it and with the winter Corner Brook had this year it must of been costly keeping it cleans and ready for use .. Pendes been in power before and dont nothing with the Pepsi Center so i dont see this will amount to much...except him trying to use this as his platform for Provinical Politics What a joke!!!!