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Kirkella Visitor Centre will open

The Visitor Centre located near Kirkella on the TransCanada Highway will open this season after all.
visitor centre
Manitoba’s western most visitor centre on the TransCanada, near Kirkella will be open this summer, as both a rest stop and information centre. Photo/Anne Davison

The Visitor Centre located near Kirkella on the TransCanada Highway will open this season after all. When the Virden Empire-Advance reported that the centre would not be open to greet tourists
entering the province from the west, it was the first offi cials in the area had heard of the change.

The news didn’t sit well with Rick Plaisier, Reeve of the R.M. of Sifton who went straight to action.

“We had no idea. We had no consultation about this decision so I started asking questions,” said Plaisier. “I called every department I could think of and thankfully they changed their decision.”

Travel Manitoba confirmed recently that the local centre would not be opening this season and that tourists would be directed to the Discovery Centre in Brandon as the first point of contact
from tourism staff in the province. In a release by Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, dated May 28, the partnership between the two entities was confirmed. However, the release
also noted a change in the plans surrounding the closure of the Kirkella centre.

“The premier said Manitoba has also committed funding to support the re-opening of the seasonal visitor information centre on the Trans-Canada Highway in Kirkella, near the Saskatchewan border.
The information centre will officially open for the tourist season later this summer, but restroom facilities are available now,” reads the press release.

That’s good news, according to Plaisier. “It’s absolutely necessary to have the door to our province open as people come in,” he said. “We want to greet them with a smile, and show them what we have to offer. There is more to see in southwestern Manitoba than just what’s in Brandon. People aren’t going to back-track once they get to Brandon. We need to show them what
rural Manitoba has to offer when they are here.”

Local MLA Doyle Piwniuk was also happy to hear the news of the centre re-opening but says the last minute change is less than ideal.

“With the late decision to open there is no staffing in place. Usually things are ready to go for the tourist season and now there will be a delay,” he said. “I am putting the pressure on the government
to make sure it stays open and that this doesn’t happen again.”

Piwniuk stated that the Manitoba government’s current budget for tourism is less than half that of the Saskatchewan government.
“It’s so important to promote our province. There are so many things to offer and we have to make sure people coming in don’t just pass them by,” said Piwniuk.

Colin Ferguson, President of Travel Manitoba who confirmed the initial decision, was not available to comment on the change.

While the decision is positive for the local area, Plaisier still has questions. “I’d like to know what the parameters of this decision are,” he said. “Will it be open for this summer only or will it be
open next season as well? We are still waiting for that information.”

For now, hiring summer staff and getting the doors to the centre, and the province, open bodes well with Plaisier.

“We have lots to offer in our area,” he said listing off museums and other attractions in the area. “We need to make sure people know about everything we have to offer.”

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