Growing Communities

CARM continues to support the creation of community spaces

By Jim Chliboyko

Asense of community. That’s one of the things industry associations around the world seem to do best, fostering a sense of community. Whether it’s bringing entire sectors together, helping people create their own networks or directly helping communities themselves, a vital business association usually gives back and creates something in the process.

The Construction Association of Rural Manitoba (CARM) walks the walk when it comes to building community. Each year, CARM funds or otherwise provides in-kind donations to three community projects throughout the province. The funds are raised through specific CARM fund-raising endeavours, such as the annual golf tournament and banquet.

To be accepted, the chosen entries have to be, “for the betterment of the community-at-large and benefits more than one user group,” states to the application. Amongst the requirements, the application has to be for a specific construction-based project, approved by a member of CARM and must have additional funding sources, as well.

Past CARM Community Project Initiatives include Brandon’s Ashley Neufeld Softball Complex Pumphouse project, the development at the Hanbury Hill recreation site, also in Brandon, and the development of the Oak Lake Campground in Oak Lake.

A newer project to add to the list of CARM Community Projects is occurring at Brandon’s Rideau Park.

Lawrence Donald is a connected man in Brandon. The Brandon lawyer is both an associate member of CARM and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Brandon. So, he was on the ground floor for the construction of the new, still-under-construction Family Pavilion at Brandon’s well-loved Rideau Park.

“When I became aware of the Community Project Initiative funding availability, it seemed to me like something that would be a good match for our project at Rideau Park,” said Donald, who is quick to acknowledge that he didn’t initiate the project himself. “Primarily, my role was as the liaison between the Kiwanis Club of Brandon and CARM organization.”

Rideau Park already has many facilities, such as a toboggan slide, skating rink, swimming pool and the East End Community Centre, but what it needed was something in the north end of the park. The pavilion itself is not unlike those rooved, open-air picnic/gathering facilities you can see at many other Manitoba parks. The inspiration for the pavilion came from the time the Kiwanis Club spends in Rideau Park. Every year in late spring, the Kiwanis Club has their Kiwanis Kar Derby on the north side of Rideau Park.

“This (pavilion) will be located in a spot very near to where the Kar Derby is conducted. It may be useful to us and it will also be very useful [to] families that are participating in the Kar Derby, as well as year-round, in a space that otherwise wouldn’t be getting much traffic during the rest of the year,” said Donald.

The Kiwanis Kar Derby has been an important family event in Brandon since the 1980s.

“Basically, we sell kits that provide a template for the size of the go-karts that are generally constructed by local people, some professionally done, some in the garage as a family project between the parents and the child who’s going to drive it. And the club has been operating this Kar Derby for 30 years, so we’ve had three generations of families participate; the grandparents now coming out to watch the grandchildren race, after having helped their children race before them.

“We bring in a flatbed truck to set up a ramp and then we race two cars at a time, they go down the ramp. There happens to be one of the biggest hills in Brandon, running right off of Rideau street, so we then, actually with Brandon Police Service’s assistance, have clocked these go-karts at speeds slightly in access of 30 kilometres an hour (with radar guns). The kids have a riot. Some find it a little intimidating when they get up at the ‘Well, maybe this isn’t for me after all.’ But we usually have an average of about 100 competitors and it’s a great day of family entertainment that helps to raise funds for our community projects.”

And while the Family Pavilion will help the Kiwanis Club that one day of the year, Donald says that it will come in handy for whoever else wants it, from weddings to family picnics or any other gathering, over the course of the rest of the year. When finished, the structure will be 24 by 48 feet and have enough space to shelter 100 people.

CARM’s contribution has been invaluable

“CARM has generously made a $10,000 cash contribution, which represents about 10 per cent of our budget,” said Donald. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of support from the membership of CARM, in terms of contributions in kind and, in fact, one of our major partners would be Crane Steel, but also the City of Brandon and the Westbran Training Centre have been helpful to us.”

Other project partners include PJ Crane and Behlen Industries.

While the Family Pavilion isn’t quite yet completed, Donald figures that it will be ready for next year. The timing is fitting, as the Kiwanis Club of Brandon celebrates its centenary in 2019.

“This community project has been very smooth,” he said. “We submitted their application prior to the deadline and they dealt with it and gave us the good news not long afterwards.”

Mark Kolt is another applicant who has received good news from CARM this past year. The Flin Flon Musical Festival stage, up in the northern Manitoban mining city, is a project that has been completed and already broken in, earlier this year.

“There’s a gentleman at city hall, Ted Elliott, who has been attending a festival in Saskatchewan,” said Kolt, the Flin Flon city solicitor, referring to an annual musicians’ jamboree, also referred to as a the Tennent Musicians’ Reunion; a gathering which used to take place at the farm of Ray and Myrna Tennent in the Melfort and Naicam area, in central Saskatchewan.

“They ran the festival based on certain tenets; it would be free for attendees and there would be free performances,” said Kolt, who added the festival regularly had audience numbers in the range of 1,700. “There [were] over 200 trailers; it was a bit of an eye-opener, that you can run a festival, not on a pay-per view model.”

With the Tennents getting older, it came time to retire their festival for good and this caught the attention of the folks in Flin Flon, 450 kilometres away.

“It would be a shame if this disappeared and there was nothing to replace it,” said Kolt. “Because the Tennents’ had been a success, our councillors were interested.”

So, Elliott and Kolt got the ball rolling. They made a presentation to the city, which would be the first act in providing the town with some artistic infrastructure. When it was completed, the city had itself a brand-new 36-foot by 16-foot outdoor stage, with a surface area of 575 sq. ft. It is now the home of the Blueberry Jam Music Gathering, a three-day summertime music festival. The stage is located at the Flin Flon Tourist Bureau and Campground in the city’s east end, near the Flinty statue and Flin Flon Station Museum. 

The builders also added a security grill and some low-tech soundproofing in back. “The Tennents collected a million egg crates (for their own stage),” said Kolt, referring to the inspiration of their own soundproofing technique.

In the end, Kolt said the stage cost $40,000, built with an estimated $20,000 in donated volunteer time.

“Now it’s built and got its baptism this year at the Blueberry Jam,” he said. “We budgeted that 300 to 500 people would benefit from the stage; we got multiples of that. There were over 110 performers, 60 musical acts and over 100 songs.”

While he is not sure the festival brought in as many Saskatchewanites as they initially envisioned, Kolt said, “In Flin Flon we were extremely successful in attracting Manitobans. Everybody did it for free; we were able to concentrate fundraising on other things.”

Other funders, besides CARM, who had contributed $5,000, included the City of Flin Flon, the neighbouring Saskatchewan City of Creighton, just across the border, the Northern Neighbours Community Foundation, Greenstone Community Futures, the Neighbourhoods Alive! Program and the Hudbay Minerals company.

Kolt says that Flin Flon is a very creative small city and, as such, is a worthy recipient for funding for the stage.

“We have several big festival-type of events,” Kolt said, also mentioning that there have been a number of Flin Flon musicians who’ve done well in the CBC Searchlight talent competition and, as well, the city shows great enthusiasm for the arts celebration known as Culture Days. “There’s a number of performers who have developed their skills well; it’s a really creative community.”

“It was an awesome party and we hope to replicate it next year.”


Photos courtesy of Hugh Cowan & Mark Kolt

Aerial view of the new Flin Flon Musical Festival

Still under construction, Rideau Park’s new Family Pavilion will be a great gathering space for the community