In my column last month, I provided an update on our new Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris. I shared information on the construction of the facility, along with details about some of the activities that will take place in this impressive building.
Today, I will continue this discussion, but I’m going to shift from the “bricks and mortar” aspect of the project to the true heart of the building, and that’s the people who will use it, and the lives that will be impacted by it.
First and foremost, the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre will be a cutting-edge teaching and learning venue for Red Deer College students. The building will open its doors to students in the fall of 2018, and it has been carefully designed to enhance opportunities for RDC’s learners for decades to come. Students will learn in hands-on, interdisciplinary environments created in the new lab and classroom spaces.
The centre will also be open to our community members for a variety of other purposes, much like the Red Deer College Arts Centre and Library Information Common are enjoyed and used by people from across central Alberta.
People of all ages will enjoy the facility when they participate in summer camps, fitness programs and more. Plus, the new fitness centre will have membership opportunities for those weekend warriors among us.
When it comes to elite athletes, RDC’s student-athletes will also benefit from the fitness centre, athletic therapy and strength and conditioning services. The Kings and Queens basketball, volleyball and hockey teams will train and compete in the new facility, and the Kings and Queens club programs for junior volleyball and basketball will benefit from the new space.
Accessibility is also an important part of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, as our goal right from the beginning has been to create an inclusive facility for all Central Albertans. The entire facility is designed to be accessible, with a few special highlights.
Inside, the fitness centre will have equipment that can be used by people with disabilities. And the ice arena, which can be adapted from a regular to an Olympic-sized rink, is designed to be fully accessible, which means there is potential for sledge hockey to be played in this area. Just outside the centre, the natural area and path outside will be barrier free, and it will connect with Red Deer’s trail system.
The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre will also be a venue for community engagement, and it will allow RDC to host events on a huge scale – including our role in the upcoming 2019 Canada Winter Games and the potential for hosting national tournaments for volleyball and basketball. This Centre will allow us to enhance connections with and provide even more opportunities for people from Central Alberta and beyond, and this is another way that RDC will continue to be an integral part of our communities.
Joel Ward is President &CEO of Red Deer College