Last week, we opened the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris to thousands of people — students, faculty, staff, partners and community members all toured the building, after much anticipation over the past months. Awesome, jaw-dropping, game-changer and iconic were a few words I heard used to describe the new health, wellness and sport facility.
At the ribbon-cutting on August 22, we welcomed our partners to celebrate with us. Government officials, the City of Red Deer, Canada Games Council and Host Society representatives, along with philanthropists Gary Harris and Jack and Joan Donald joined us for this historic opening.
And what a celebration it was! Three years in the making, the $88 million Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre is the result of the work of so many. They should be proud of their contributions to a Centre that will serve our students, our community and our region for generations to come.
And it will be busy. Our students and Athletics teams have been waiting to use the facility, and their time is finally here.
Community interest has been immense, and the building will be humming with activity each and every day. Plus, as the designated legacy facility for the Games, the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre will serve our College and our community members in exciting new ways.
This fall, we are hosting five pre-Games events in preparation for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. The Games will take place from Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019, and immediately after, we will be hosting the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Volleyball National Championships — for the first time more than 30 years. Tournaments, conferences and community use will ensure strong economic activity for our region.
We are proud to be a part of the Canada Winter Games and all that the partnership has enabled —and the Games will be amazing, of that I have no doubt.
But our decision to partner on this once in a generation opportunity was based not only on hosting the Games, but on the impact new facilities would have on our future capacity to serve our learners and communities long into the future.
And make no mistake, the opening of the Centre is about the future — the future of our region, our community and our College — and the University we are becoming.
It is about our ability to better serve our learners and communities in new and innovative ways through the addition of more programs, including our own degrees.
Great programs, well delivered in state-of-the-art facilities will ensure the future of RDC as a recognized university. More opportunities for students to study closer to home will have major impact on our economic, cultural and social growth.
When it comes to facilities for teaching, learning, innovation and research, RDC is leaping into the future.
This amazing facility, our new residence and our new Alternative Energy Lab all reflect our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint while reducing our heating and cooling costs.
Through the unique vertical installation of solar panels on our Residence building and more than 2,000 solar panels on the roof of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, RDC will be one of the leaders in Canada when it comes to alternative energy innovation.
My thanks to the Government of Alberta, and in particular to Premier Rachel Notley and Minister of Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt, for the future they have enabled by their announcement earlier this year.
And for our students, your future begins now. Our Apprentice courses started on August 27, and Sept. 5, credit classes begin at Red Deer College.
Students will start learning in our new Centre and across our campuses.
As we welcome students back and wish them all the best with their programs, another academic year has begun. But this year is different.
We know that we are becoming a University, we have opened the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, and we are looking to future opportunities unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Red Deer College is on an exciting path, and we look forward to sharing it with you.
Joel Ward is President & CEO of Red Deer College.