Rec Centre update: 'huge win for students'

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Rec Centre concept drawing

Photo courtesy Mustang Athletics

SOON TO GRACE THE SKYLINE. Construction continues on the extension of the Thompson Recreation and Athletic Centre. The building should be operational at some point during the fall semester next school year. The facility will be among the best on-campus recreation centres in North America.

As you have probably noticed, the south side of campus has taken on a different look in the past few months, thanks to the ongoing development of the new recreation centre.

Once completed, the $33.9-million investment will include five gyms, five squash courts, a 50-metre pool, and 19,000 square feet designated for cardio and weight-lifting, in addition to the facilities already operating at Thompson Recreation and Athletic Centre.

According to Chuck Mathies, acting director of sports and recreation, it will be one of the top facilities in North America.

“I think once we get it all outfitted and well equipped, it’s going to be up there with most of the top models,” he said.

As well, the recreation centre will also be the new home of Campus Recreation, which will vacate its current space in the University Community Centre. Then, the vacant space will be split between the University Students’ Council and the university.

“The USC is getting basically the gym [and] the Campus Rec. offices that the USC will control for students,” David Singh, VP-finance for the USC, said. “The pool, the changerooms, and half of the squash courts are all being turned into classrooms.”

Even though construction on the UCC won’t begin until early 2009, the USC has already researched its options by conducting town hall meetings, consulting architects, and visiting other universities to investigate their facilities.

“It’s been one of the most comprehensive and all-inclusive thought processes that goes to value what students need, and how best that space can be used for them,” Singh said.

As for the construction on the recreation centre, the targeted opening is scheduled for September, but Singh speculated October or November may be more realistic due to delays this past summer.

Construction delays aren’t out of the ordinary. Both Carleton and McMaster universities faced delays of 10 and 18 months respectively when expanding their own facilities.

“There’s going to be a transition period at any time between now and the opening,” Mathies said, regarding campus recreation’s transition between buildings.

“If it’s September, we’re there to get it done. If it ends up being November, we’ll do the same.”

Regardless of the opening date, it’s still business as usual for those involved.

“We need to educate people as to what’s going to be at the facility and what they can look forward to,” Andy Watson, Western’s media relations officer, said.

“That’s really going to be our big push in the off-season leading into the new academic year.”

Delays or not, Mathies is eager for students to see the final product, having taken a tour two weeks ago.

“When you look at it from a distance and you don’t get a chance to see the inside, you don’t really get a full perspective of it,” he said.

“It’s really quite incredible. I’m really looking forward to once they get it all put together, it’s going to be exciting.”

Singh shared Mathies’ anticipation.

“It’s a reinvestment in the student experience by having a top notch athletic facility,” he said. “I think that’s a huge win for all students.”

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