Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre construction on schedule

Sounds of heavy machinery continue to fill the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre as the long awaited multi-million dollar project draws closer to completion.

Members of the media got one of the first looks inside the new $88-million facility Friday afternoon to see how construction is progressing.

The facility is expected to open next summer.

Red Deer College president Joel Ward, who led the tour alongside director of capital projects Doug Sharp, said the project is on schedule and on budget so far.

“The design here is iconic,” said Ward. “There’s nothing like it in Central Alberta, and I would argue there’s nothing like it in all of Alberta.”

The facility, which will be used for short-track speed skating, wheelchair basketball, badminton, figure skating and squash in the 2019 Canada Winter Games, was designed as a learning centre and an athletic facility. It’s more than a hockey rink and gymnasium, said Ward.

“We want it to be a teaching and learning space where we can incorporate those spaces into teaching,” he said.

When he first started at Red Deer College nine years ago, the athletic facilities were worse than most high schools’ facilities, Ward said, so upgrading them was important.

When it comes to building a project this big, it was “go big or go home,” he added.

“We would be regretting a smaller project 10 years from now. People will look back and say people made good decisions about this facility because it enhanced the college,” he said.

The facility had to be visually pleasing, because it will be the marker to enter Red Deer, said Ward.

“A million people pass this building every single year, and I know many of them I talk to in Calgary and Edmonton are really excited about it.”

After construction is complete there could be additions to the building in the future, including a second ice rink and a second floor expansion.

The goal is to have an all-weather campus, with the facility attached to the current campus; however, there will be a gap for the time being.

This is the first building on campus not connected to everything else.

This facility is something people from all over will come to see, Ward said.

“This is not just a facility for Red Deer College, it’s a facility for Red Deer, Central Alberta, Alberta and even all of Canada.”

About 2,000 people, most of whom are Central Albertans, will have worked on this project by the time it is completed next summer.

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