By Diane Poulin
The most significant recreation and wellness facility ever created in Winnipeg’s inner-city community opened in September. The University of Winnipeg United Health and RecPlex on Spence Street is a $40-million facility that will serve the campus and surrounding community for decades to come.
Programming within the facility is specifically designed to meet the needs of multiple groups: Wesmen athletes and UWinnipeg students who want to have fun and stay in shape; neighbourhood youth and residents; and amateur sports organizations requiring space.
“Since the doors of the RecPlex opened in September, it has been alive with activities, from soccer matches, rock climbing and wrestling practices, to seniors exercising, girls hoop dancing, and a weekly community Pow Wow club,” says Dr. Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor at UWinnipeg. “This is a world-class facility that is bringing people together to do exactly what was intended: create new opportunities for recreation and for improving the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and the broader community.”
In the coming weeks, construction will be completed on the skybridge linking the RecPlex with a renovated Duckworth Centre, creating a seamless flow to more health and wellness spaces and new retail options.
A state-of-the-art facility
The facility is 168,000 square feet and accommodates a 50.5 by 90-metre soccer field, which meets minimum FIFA standard. It provides new indoor training and practice space for all Wesmen teams, the soccer players in particular. It can also accommodate numerous other sports such as flag football and track and field, as well as cultural and community events. It has:
-a large multi-use artificial turf field (three cross-fields)
-a four-lane rubberized sprint track and jump pit
-retractable batting cages (for baseball practice donated by the Rettie family)
-Thomas Sill Community Multi-purpose room
-Community Gym with climbing wall
-secure underground parkade for 189 vehicles and 56 bicycles
-Great-West Life Healthy Campus and Research Centre
-Drew Olson Student Lounge
UWinnipeg’s Athletics Department currently supports approximately 300 neighbourhood youth under the Inner-City Junior Wesmen umbrella which includes boys’ and girls’ basketball, soccer and wrestling teams. The RecPlex is also the new home for the neighbourhood Pow Wow Club and the Adventure Kids Summer Camp which attracts 1,200 inner-city children annually. The popular day camp allows children to participate in engaging activities with a focus on Indigenous science.
Over the course of several years, following town hall meetings and in collaboration with community partners, a unique Community Charter was developed with a broad coalition of 18 youth-serving agencies and community stakeholders. The Community Charter ensures community use approximately one third of the time.
The new facility is possible because of generous government grants, with the Province of Manitoba contributing $15 million and the City of Winnipeg committing $2 million to the project. A University of Winnipeg Students’ Association-sponsored student referendum approved a student athletic fee of $30 per term to support construction of the new facility.
Private partners, like Great-West Life, donated $500,000 to create the Great-West Life Healthy Campus and Research Centre inside the complex which allows for new research opportunities that will benefit the community, and especially inner-city youth, for decades to come. It also supports the university’s emerging Healthy Campus initiative.
An investment of $230,000 in energy-efficient features by Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart program is estimated to have the equivalent positive environmental impact of taking 119 cars off the road for one year, and will allow UWinnipeg to save $25,000 in annual energy costs. For more information on the centre, visit http://www.uwinnipeg.ca.