Corner Brook city council seems determined to make the Pepsi Centre more relevant to the citizens of Corner Brook and the region.
The multi-million dollar facility was built for the 1999 Canada Winter Games and threatens to become the “white elephant” some opponents feared it would be when plans were announced to replace the outdated Humber Gardens and Kinsmen Arena.
The idea of the commnity centre was promoted in the beginning as being a great legacy that would contribute to the city and region for decades.
It was described as ideal for hosting conventions, concerts and national and international sporting events that would help drive the local economy.
Little of that has ever happened, and it appears less and less happens at the centrepiece of the Canada Winter Games as time goes on.
After more than a decade of underutilization, the present council has begun a process to find other uses for the centre that soaks up a massive $850,000 annual grant from city taxpayers ... aside from the ever-increasing fees paid by user groups.
At a meeting Tuesday night, about 50 citizens offered their ideas and suggestions about why the centre sits unused far too often.
Everything from a restaurant to a daycare centre was offered up to council and the consulting firm hired to draft a report on where and why the Pepsi Centre comes up wanting. Ideas have, however, been the least of the building’s shortcomings.
A proposal drafted promoting the centre before the first piece of steel was erected was replete with suggestions for uses after the Games were just a memory. Action and creative thinking is what will be needed after this consulting process is complete.
Corner Brook and taxpayers all over this province have a big investment in this centre and it won’t be a success by waiting for business to knock on its door.
It has to become the community centre it was envisioned by those dreamers who had it built in spite of the obstacles.
Council must find where the roadblocks are and remove them.
There is no doubt the centre is an important part of the region, but it will take more than waiting for the phone to ring to make it a success.
It has to be promoted and the city has the means in place to accomplish that.