On Friday, September 7, members of the community gathered at the East Wing of the Research and Academic Centre anxiously awaiting the news of $16.7 million in federal funding for the Laurier Brantford YMCA Athletics and Recreation Complex.
Invitations were sent out to members of the community earlier in the week for a “special announcement from Honourable Minister Diane Finley and Brant MP Phil McColeman.”
The funding was announced by Haldimand-Norfolk MP and Minister of Human Resources Skills Development, Diane Finley.
Minister Diane Finley explained and could not emphasize enough that such an opportunity does not come along often.
“The government realizes how important having projects like this are for a community.”
Finley concluded her announcement by acknowledging the efforts of the entire community, “Great minds, great community, coming together to work together.”
Although funding has now been secured by all the levels of government, Brantford Mayor Chris Friel urged the community and supporters “to come together and make it a reality.”
Community and student financial support will still be required. Another $18 million still needs to be raised. A student referendum will decide on an added fee to tuition.
Dr. Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University feels passionately about this significant investment for the school.
“It is great to see that the federal and provincial government could come together and make this grant happen for this location,” said Dr. Blouw.
Jim Commerford, the CEO of the YMCA commented, “The patience and time that this development took will make the community stronger and be well worth the wait.”
Commerford continued to discuss some statistics and how the YMCA will be able to further help and develop the community.
“There are high levels of obesity and with obesity, the health care costs increase. When healthy living is promoted, and more enforced, the chances in reducing health care costs are increased.”
Over the next 3-4 years there should be major development in the downtown core. This development is planned to make a huge difference, even though some people are still adjusting to the land that now stands vacant where many buildings once were on Colbourne Street.
The success of the grant is being credited largely to the persistence of Phil McColeman, Brantford’s Member of Parliament. Dave Levac (MPP of Brantford), Finley, and Friel all gave special mention to McColeman’s tireless efforts in securing the grant from Ottawa.
The Laurier/YMCA athletics complex is one of ten architectural projects selected among hundreds of projects from across the world. The 130,000 square-foot facility will include a pool, multiple gymnasiums, a fitness center, and health and wellness promotions. The athletics complex will be open to the local Brantford community and will accommodate the rising student population of Laurier Brantford. The complex will also be fully accessible to people of all abilities.