Laurier-YMCA downtown facility to be ready for 2015

The preliminary designs for a new Athletics and Recreation centre were unveiled this Monday at on open house meeting in the Carnegie building. The complex will be a joint venture between Laurier Brantford and the YMCA. If everything goes according to plan, the complex will be constructed on the currently vacant south side of Colborne Street and extend down to Water Street.

The entire project remains contingent on securing rights to the land on South Colborne.

Though no official decisions have been made, both Laurier and YMCA staff are confident they will be gain permission to build the complex. The facility will be open to students and members of the general public, and is being designed to accommodate the needs of both Laurier and the YMCA. Some of the features which are supposed to be included in this complex include: a full gym, a mid-sized gym, a 25-metre six lane pool, several multipurpose rooms, a yoga studio, a wellness area, a student lounge and an observation area above the gym where students can watch games and other events.

Many from the local and university communities hold high hopes for this facility; it has the potential to support a varsity sports program, accommodate far more students than the Wilkes House gym and help boost school spirit and student involvement, both of which have traditionally been lacking at the small campus setting of Laurier Brantford.

“It’ll be the best in Ontario, I guarantee it,” says Greg Stewart, manager of Laurier Brantford’s A&R department. “Buildings are being built with about 80,000 square feet; this [one] is 120,000. It’s a beast.”

For students wondering exactly what a “joint venture between Laurier and the YMCA” entails, here are some details: It’s a completely equal 50/50 partnership. Each organization is making contributions to the design and planning of the facility, and when it’s finished, both students and YMCA members will have access to it.

“We’re building a facility with the size and scope to handle the volume [of people],” says Lisa Roddie of the YMCA. “In most cases, students want the same things the public wants. We just need to make sure there’s enough space for everybody.”

Under the joint ownership, all students will have access to all of the programming and will receive a YMCA membership, allowing students to use YMCA facilities in their hometowns.

All of this will be included under the existing student services fee. The facility is also being designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible; proposed designs include a green space on the roof where students can relax and a path connecting Colborne and Water Streets. The early designs for the complex have been completed by Cannon Design, an international firm that has developed numerous other recreational and athletic facilities for universities including those at McMaster, and the athletics facility at Laurier Waterloo, as well as their University Stadium. The facilities are presently slated to open in the fall of 2015.

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