Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and members of the community joined a sunny, outdoor celebration on October 11, 2012, to witness a jackhammer groundbreaking of the new Active Living Centre.
On hand were University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. David Barnard; Premier Greg Selinger; Minister of State (Transport) and Member of Parliament for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, Steven Fletcher; Mayor Sam Katz; Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, Jane Watkinson; former University of Manitoba Bison and current member of the National Football League's Chicago Bears Israel Idonije; and University of Manitoba Students’ Union President, Bilan Arte.
Vice-President (External) John Kearsey served as master of ceremonies, and – in the spirit of active living – conducted his role from atop a moving treadmill.
Also in attendance were David and Ruth Asper, long-time supporters of the University of Manitoba and Bison Sports. A number of the speakers, including President Barnard, acknowledged the crucial role David Asper played in first envisioning the partnerships that could bring this project to fruition.
“The Active Living Centre builds on the transformative change at the University of Manitoba in the spaces where we live, work, study, discover and play,” said Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Manitoba. “Not only will the centre become a primary gateway to the heart of campus, but it will also enhance significantly the University of Manitoba’s commitment to a culture of active, sustainable living.”
The four-storey, open-concept facility, with its luminous glass exterior, will house a high-performance training facility for elite athletes, a state-of-the-art indoor running track, a 12-meter climbing wall, an Applied Research Centre, a gathering area for students, strength and conditioning facilities, and three group workout studios.
Dean Jane Watkinson said the faculty's plan is to have students, researchers and staff actively engaged in helping people overcome barriers to active living.
"Our long term vision is to graduate hundreds of University of Manitoba students every year who know how to engage in active living, how to monitor their own health in this regard, and how to maintain active lifestyles for themselves and their children when they graduate," she said.
Former Bison Israel Idonije, who reminisced about his time working out as a Bison at the University of Manitoba, spoke of his appreciation for the Active Living Centre.
"The Active Living Centre is going to be a wonderful new facility for the University of Manitoba," he said. "Having state-of-the-art equipment for students, staff and the community to enjoy is an integral part leading a healthy lifestyle."
The 100,000-square-foot facility will support an active lifestyle for students, staff, and the community alike. The Active Living Centre will replace the current facility (dubbed the “Gritty Grotto”).
“We’re pleased to help fund this new centre, which will not only benefit students and staff on campus, but will also offer a variety of fitness opportunities for people of all ages in the community,” said Premier Selinger. “Investing in facilities that promote active lifestyles is a government priority because it will have lasting benefits for Manitoba families well into the future.”
The building will also have a space devoted to bringing together service providers from multiple disciplines (exercise physiologists, exercise psychologists, registered dietitians, athletic therapists, etc.) with researchers and graduate students to support people striving to begin or sustain an active lifestyle.
“Our government is proud to support construction of this world-class amateur sport and fitness centre -- one of the largest of its kind in Manitoba,” said Minister of State Fletcher. “When complete in 2015, it will help build a strong, sustainable and healthy community.”
When it’s completed in 2015, the modern, eco-friendly building will accommodate upwards of 2,000 patrons per day, making it the largest active living facility in Manitoba.
“The City of Winnipeg is pleased to support the Active Living Centre with $2.5 million obtained from the sale of the Polo Park stadium site,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “Students and staff at the University of Manitoba campus come from all corners of Winnipeg. Soon they will have the opportunity to build active living into their academic day, with a modern, bright fitness facility.”
DJ Sallyboo provided music before and after the event. Members of the Faculty of Engineering Marching Band also made an in-crowd appearance to show their appreciation for the $46-million dollar project.
Each year, more than 7,800 students and 1,000 staff and community members use the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management’s facility at the University of Manitoba. The Faculty promotes sport and active living through various university and community programs for people of all ages and will be home to the new Active Living Centre.