Thousands visit opening of new recreation centre

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Inside of Western Student Recreation Centre

Laura Barclay

THE WAIT IS OVER. The highly anticipated Western Student Recreation Centre opened on Monday. Tours of the 16,000 square foot facility are available for interested students and faculty.

Following years of planning, referendums and complications, the Western Student Recreation Centre officially opened its doors to students this week.

The newest addition to Western’s campus includes five basketball courts, a 50-metre swimming pool, squash courts, lounge areas and a massive cardio/weight-training area flooded with state of the art equipment and soon to be lined wall to wall with plasma screens.

“I think it’s really important because we all know that university is more than just classes,” said University Students’ Council communications officer Rachel Halpern.

“It provides not only a healthy outlet, but also a stress reliever. With the referendum passed it seemed to be a concern of the students so we addressed it with the new rec centre.”

According to Gitta Kulczycki, vice-president resources and operations at Western, students can thank the 2005-06 USC for exploring the needs of Western students.

“We were talking to the president of the USC, who at the time was Ryan Dunn, and the idea came forward that there could be some student contribution towards this initiative,” Kulczycki said, recalling the 2006 referendum.

“I give him and the USC at the time full credit for having the vision to make this a dream come true for future students.”

Identifying its primary goal is to improve recreation on campus, Halpern thinks the new building will do more for the average Western student than improve their waistline.

“I think it will spread student traffic around more so the [University Community Centre] won’t be as busy,” she said. “Having something brand new is also important and the students get to reap the benefits of what they paid for.”

Though many students are eager to get to the gym early in the season, a combination of New Year’s resolutions and the novelty of the new facility have caused some over-crowding of the monstrous building.

“We tried to keep a counter on the first day and we had around 4,000 students visit from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. That was probably fairly similar to Tuesday and maybe dropped a little more over the week,” said Gareth Cunningham, manager of Campus Recreation.

Though the building is operational, there have been lingering concerns since the beginning of construction over its completion.

While some areas of the gym are up and running, more construction and some final touches are expected to continue through the year.

“The most obvious thing [not completed] is the pool. We’re anticipating early February for that facility,” Cunningham said.

“For the first few days we were without one of our squash courts, which has been completed now. The rest is more behind the scenes, mechanical and electrical work.”

Cunningham and the rest of Campus Recreation are proud to offer tours around the 16,000 square foot property.

“This week we’ve had extra staff on to provide tours,” he said.

“You don’t book those in advanced, just show up at the gate and bring a student card. They will wait for five to six people until they leave. Depending on the tour it can last 30 to 40 minutes and if they want anything more in depth they are free to contact any of us at the rec centre.”

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