Work on the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre at Red Deer College is scheduled to be completed by September 2018. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Fundraising for RDC’s new $88-million athletic/learning centre is on track

Central Albertans dig deep to help raise money for the project

When times get tough, Red Deer College supporters get giving.

Janice Wing, RDC’s director of community relations, is thrilled the fundraising campaign is on track for the $88-million new Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

All the Central Albertan support shows local philanthropy goes up when the economy goes down, said Wing.

Even if the donations are made in smaller amounts than previously, she added, “people do whatever they can to help out.”

The massive (about 200,000 square-foot) construction project on the west side of the RDC campus will feature classroom and student spaces, as well as gymnasiums, a convertible ice rink and four squash courts to be used when Red Deer hosts the Canada Winter Games early in 2019.

The centre is expected to open six months before, in September 2018. By then, Wing hopes all the financing will be in place.

It’s being built with $20 million from Alberta Advanced Education, and $11.5 million jointly from the City of Red Deer and the 2019 Canada Winter Games Committee. Red Deer College has committed to raising $30 million and making up the difference through loans or college funds.

So far, half of the $30 million has been raised, with another 1 1/2 years to go, said Wing. Although getting sponsorships and donations has been harder than usual, she added that RDC has many “strong, active supporters,” including college graduates.

Among them is the building’s namesake: Gary Harris is president of Olds-based Pro-All International Manufacturing, which builds and exports mobile concrete mixers. He contributed the largest private-sector donation of $5 million.

Doug Sharp, RDC’s Director of Capital Projects, stressed that most of the centre will be teaching and learning space. Kinesiology, athletics, and nursing students will have classes and labs in the stand-alone centre, which will be finished in glass, metal cladding and red brick.

During the Canada Winter Games, the college will host short-track speedskating, figure skating, badminton, wheelchair basketball and squash competitions. After the Games, community members, as well as students, can access the facility, which will include oval and straight running tracks and a large fitness centre on two floors.

Sharp anticipates the building’s steel frame will be enclosed by the spring.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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