$35M recreation centre opening in January

The $35-million Western Student Recreation Centre at The University of Western Ontario is on schedule to open when students return from the holiday break.

Campus Recreation manager Gareth Cunningham (left) and Western Student Recreation Centre project manager Boris Pertout crack open boxes of new cardio equipment which will be installed in the new facility, slated to open the week of Jan. 5.

Campus Recreation manager Gareth Cunningham says construction workers and Campus Recreation staff will be working around the clock to get the 160,000-square foot facility open for the week of Jan. 5.

“We are working really hard to make sure our doors are open for the week of Jan. 5,” he says, noting access and programming could be limited in the first week or so as staff becomes trained in the new facility, systems are installed, and programming schedules are put into place.

Cunningham said as the opening date approaches, there will be communications on the Western home page and in emails to students about what activities and facilities will be available in the first weeks of January.

The new recreation centre is expected to be fully operational by the week of Jan. 12, with the exception of the 50-metre swimming pool, on which construction was delayed to complete the remainder of the building.

“It just didn’t fit into the construction stream, says project manager Boris Pertout. “Ideally we wanted it for January, but we are concentrating on the rest of the building.”

Although an exact date has yet to be determined, the pool is slated to be completed in January.

As for construction, Pertout says the building is about 90 per cent complete, however the finishing touches are needed to make the centre ready for students and the public.

Among the many challenges of constructing one of Canada’s largest university recreation centres were the size and diversity of the structure, he adds.

“Every area of this building is different and unique to this complex,” he says. “Overall, it is going to be a good facility to use.”

The university had hoped to open the facility in September, but various delays pushed it back to the January deadline, says Gitta Kulczycki, Western Vice-President (Resources & Operations).

“Now there is very much a concerted effort on behalf of the contractor to have it all done by Christmas-time,” she says. “It’s going to be an incredible facility… one of the best in the country for our student recreation.”

With most students heading home for the holidays, Kulczycki says there should be only minor disruptions from the shutdown caused by the move.

Over the next few weeks, as each area gets completed, furniture, equipment and supplies will be brought in.

On Monday, 120 new pieces of cardio equipment were delivered and equipment for the weight room will arrive next week.

In order to move the remaining usable equipment and supplies from the Cardio Annex, cardio and weight rooms in the University Community Centre to the new building, Campus Recreation is closing these units on Dec. 15.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” says Cunningham. “Our move schedule is jam-packed hour to hour.

But in spite of the cleaning, packing and unpacking and last minute details that need to be completed in the next four weeks, “you can really see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.

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