$10 million approved for gym

Jun 26, 2003, vol. 27, no. 5
By Steven Frost

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Crowded workouts, lineups for equipment and intramural wait lists are going to be a thing of the past now that the board of governors has approved funding for a $10 million expansion to campus recreational facilities.

Initial plans call for a 50,000 square foot fitness centre and gym complex to be built on the west side of Chancellor gymnasium adjacent to Terry Fox track and field. The expansion will meet the demand for recreational facilities by tripling existing recreational space, which is a welcome relief to fitness coordinator Jesse Girard, who oversees Piper's gym.

“Right now we are so overcrowded there is no personal space for a workout and that scares off a lot of people. It's very intimidating,” says Girard. “With more room to work out and less lining up for the cardio equipment and weights, I think more people will stay with their workout programs.”

Popular intramural sports leagues routinely draw long lineups the first week of class each semester as participants race to sign up for limited spaces. Intramural coordinator Geoff Vogt says he turns away 300 to 400 students each semester because there is simply no space. That will change when the new facility opens in 2005 and he has access to two additional gym floors.

“We're hoping to be able to dramatically increase the number of participants in our traditional sports and start meeting demand for new initiatives,” he says.

The current recreation facilities on campus were completed in 1976 when full-time student enrollment was 6,000. Although existing space has been remodelled over the years as enrollment has swelled to 23,000 full- and part-time students, this will be the first time more space has been dedicated to recreational use.

Wilf Wedmann, director of recreational services and athletics, says the new fitness centre and gym complex will increase capacity of recreational users from 10,000 to 15,000 per semester.

He says existing facilities will be modified and upgraded during the expansion process.

“Our vision is to create a flexible facility that will accommodate a diversity of activities and interests from students and the community,” said Wedmann.

During construction, Chancellor gym will be remodelled to create a 3,000-seat theatre-style venue, which will dramatically change the home court of the Clan basketball and volleyball teams. Over the next nine months leading to the groundbreaking, the university will start a consultation process within the community to identify user needs.

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