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Vol 38  No 12
April 6, 2006


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Pepsi Centre contract will build bridges

By Pamela Gill

From left, Dr. John Ashton, Dr. Axel Meisen, Georgina Hedges, Charles Pender and Mike Dolter pose in front of the main ice surface at the Pepsi Centre while figure skaters practise in the background.

An improved ability to serve the public is one of Grenfell College’s main priorities now that Memorial University has officially signed on the dotted line.

Memorial and the City of Corner Brook signed a five-year lease agreement for the operation of the Pepsi Centre on Thursday, March 23.

“It’s one of our strategic directives to build bridges and foster our relationships with the community we serve,” said Dennis Waterman, director of Administration and Finance, following the signing ceremony. “When we begin operating the Pepsi Centre on May 1, we’ll bring the resources of the university with us; we hope to stabilize the delivery of services.”

When asked if the takeover will mean the installation of classrooms and laboratory space in the Pepsi Centre, Mr. Waterman responded with “definitely not.”

He said the services delivered to the public will not change, “except that we hope to increase offerings and expand activities open to residents of the area. Grenfell College may use some space for student programs, but nothing free and gratis ­ we’ll be like any other user of the centre.”

The total property, which includes the Pepsi Centre, Pepsi Studio Annex and adjacent parking areas, will be operated by a local board ­ a separate incorporated entity ­ comprising representatives from the university, the city and the general public. This is the same type of board that operates The Works on the St. John’s campus. The Pepsi Centre SIE is expected to be in place in time for the May 1 deadline.

One group that may be interested in the lease agreement is a Grenfell College committee which is studying the possibility of creating a film studies program at the Corner Brook campus.

“We’re looking at expanding our programs ­ the sound stage may play into that in the areas of fine arts, as well as the committee looking at the film studies program,” said Mr. Waterman. “We’re looking forward to taking advantage of the sound stage as a living laboratory where students can interact with private sector productions.”

A transition team is now in place to ready the facility for the takeover.

“We want to ensure that everything is in top shape, clean and looking good,” said Mr. Waterman. “We’re working with the city to ensure this work is done in a timely fashion.”

At the official signing ceremony, Dr. John Ashton, principal of Grenfell College, pointed out that this new partnership is a natural extension of Grenfell’s history of service to the community. “For 30 years Sir Wilfred Grenfell College has served the City of Corner Brook and the people of Western Newfoundland in a number of important and increasingly varied ways,” he said.

Dr. Ashton referred to Grenfell’s provision of academic and community programming for thousands of Corner Brook citizens, as well as the staff and faculty’s contribution of expertise to the community as public speakers and resource people in secondary schools and other public institutions. “Through the many activities of Grenfell’s theatre and gallery as well as many clubs and societies, Grenfell has become an important centre for culture and public discourse,” he said.

“May 1, 2006, will open a new chapter in this great partnership and add strength to it, as we commence the operation of Western Newfoundland’s premier events facility,” said Dr. Ashton.

Dr. Georgina Hedges, acting chair of the Board of Regents, added that like The Works, the Pepsi Centre will operate as a separately incorporated entity of the university, legally titled Western Sports and Entertainment Inc.

“Its board of directors will be comprised of representatives from the university, the city and the general public, so the facility’s many stakeholders and patrons ­ whether they are members of the Grenfell College community or residents of Corner Brook and surrounding area ­ will be well represented,” she said.

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