Nothing can stand in the way now for one of the most highly-anticipated venues for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
The Municipal Planning Commission voted on Wednesday to give site development approval for the Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport at Red Deer College.
When completed in the fall of 2018, the three-storey red brick building will include a gymnasium, hockey rink, squash courts, classrooms and offices at 1oo College Blvd. A new video showcasing the centre was recently uploaded to the college website (www.rdc.ab.ca).
RDC will host the athletes and provide the venue for squash and short-track speed skating. The college is also negotiating to host other potential sports such as hockey or wheelchair basketball.
The new facility will be located on the lands mostly recently used as sports fields, west of the existing buildings at Red Deer College, south of College Circle and east of Hwy 2.
College president Joel Ward said the college is pleased to receive approvals from the planning commission.
“The city has been remarkable on working on us with this project,” he said. “We all have a lot at stake with the Canada Winter Games. It was a very important day for us.
“The permits are there and there is nothing now that will get in the way of getting this completed by September 2018, six months in advance of the Canada Winter Games.”
The college has roughly two-thirds of the committed funding for the project through a combination of donations, partnerships and government grants.
Ward said this new facility will help the college gain its polytechnic university status.
“Everything is lining up even though it is a bad economy,” said Ward. “We continue to push hard, push forward because we’re not always going to be in a bad economy. We have to prepare for the future and that’s what we are doing.”
Work began on the site in late October. Ward said the beginnings of the building should be visible to the public by February.
The commission heard the new development will add 440 paved parking stalls, of which nine are handicapped accessible, and a charging station for electric vehicles to the college’s existing 1,35o stalls west of the main campus.
Fifty covered bike stalls will be featured at two locations next to the main entrance on the northwest corner and the secondary entrance on the southeast side of the building.
There are currently three access points into RDC along 32nd Street (Webster Drive, 57th Avenue and 55 Avenue).
But a possible fourth access point at 28th Street and Taylor Drive may be on the horizon. It was not part of this application. The new entrance is linked to a subdivision application for the lands to the south of the junction.
The commission heard any additional intensification on the college site would trigger a future traffic impact assessment.
Details for the landscaping plan for the development is currently being ironed out. The development officer will review the plan when it is completed. Typically, the landscaping plan is reviewed by the commission at the time of the development application because it factors into the decision.
Coun. Lawrence Lee said the venue will be a game changer for the city for attracting sports tourism. He said the development shows the city is behind the college’s push to gain polytechnic university status.