Feature Business: Facelift

If you’ve been to the Keystone Centre lately, chances are it’s looking shiny and new. That’s thanks to $3.3 million from the city, provincial and federal governments for some muchneeded upkeep and, in some cases, a complete facelift for many areas of the aging complex.

Keystone Centre general manager Neil Thomson said the funding has gone a long way in sprucing up a facility that is the region’s major destination for entertainment, sports, agricultural and other events. There have been renovations to the main concourse, the main concourse bathrooms, the Westman Communications Group Place arena, the Convention Hall, the UCT Pavilion, the Exhibit Hall, City Square and the Amphitheatre. The renovations were extensive in some areas and cosmetic in others, Thomson said, making many areas of the Keystone Centre again available to produce revenue. Construction took place from the fall of 2012 and wrapped up in the summer.

The improvement most noticeable to those attending an event at the Keystone Centre might be the new, bright tiling in the main foyer. Don Cullen Masonry was able to deliver this new look. “We’ve had a lot of people ask us if we made the hallway bigger,” said Thomson. “It’s the first thing people see and it really jumps out at you. The hallway was so dark before and now the tiles are a beige/grey colour and they really pops out. We also put new lighting in the hallway, so that combined with the tiles really makes the space look bigger.”

A number of areas look bigger and are brighter, thanks to Jamieson Judd Electrical, which not only completed these current changes but previously put in the lighting in the Westman Communications Group Place arena, as well as many upgrades throughout the Keystone Centre.

“The renovations were fairly extensive. There was a substantial amount of structural upgrades required to complete some of the upgrades. A new sprinkler system had to be installed. BDR Service, over the years, was able to bring the facility more protection and prevention with annual maintenance and new sprinkler systems.

A stark change in the facility is in the washrooms in the main concourse area. Thomson said the men’s and women’s washrooms were flipped and the women got 15 new stalls, which will likely shorten the line-up at the washroom during events. The men’s washroom got a few new urinals, but Thomson said the changes were mainly cosmetic, with new flooring and a fresh coat of paint.

“The women’s washroom was way under capacity. That was an area that really needed to be addressed,” Thomson said.

Westman Communications Group Place is now better suited for an intimate concert setting, thanks to changes in lighting and the addition of cur tains, as well as a new stage.

“All the investments we have made in this facility will allow us to have more concerts, more events,” Thomson said. “More of an investment is more success for us.”

The Amphitheatre, before the investment, was virtually an unusable space. Once used for livestock sales, the leaky roof and dated interior left the room empty. Thomson said the Amphitheatre is once again an asset for the Keystone Centre, with a new roof, new carpeting, new seating and paint.

“The Amphitheatre now can host a smaller concert venue, a lecture, large meetings, and for plays,” Thomson said.

Another room that benefitted from some major changes was the Convention Hall, where new flooring was installed, as well as a dividing wall, to separate the Convention Hall into multiple rooms for different events. Another frequently used room to get a facelift was the UCT pavilion with new flooring and paint.

“A lot of the renovations were building maintenance. The building is 40 years old and is just like your house, it does require regular maintenance,” Thomson said. “We know we are making a good investment. All the event’s the Keystone Centre has, really adds to our economy and also improves the cultural component – we have a top-end junior hockey team play out of here, events, and concerts. It really adds to the lifestyle we live here.”

So next time you visit the Keystone Centre, expect to be pleasantly surprised by the new look and feel of the facility. – Kyla Henderson