COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Speeches and official ceremonies take place amid the university colours during the grand opening of Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre on Friday afternoon. The facility opened its doors to students and the community 13 months ago with the official event this week.
In matching Brandon University scarves, representatives from all three levels of government came together Friday afternoon to applaud the state-of-the-art Healthy Living Centre.
Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell chats with Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire, right, as Mayor Shari Decter Hirst and Brandon University president Deborah Poff take part in the grand opening of BU’s Healthy Living Centre on Friday. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
While the fitness facility has been open for more than a year, yesterday marked the grand opening, and a celebration was held to recognize the government partnerships and community donations.
"It’s absolutely wonderful," said BU president Deborah Poff. "When these kinds of buildings are being built, you’re always worried about getting the money together, you’re always worrying whether the project’s going to be on budget and on time … We now have this stunning facility, this beautiful facility, with three levels of government as leaders supporting it."
Nearly 100 people came out to the event, held in the new gymnasium. The guests of honour included Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire, Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell and Mayor Shari Decter Hirst.
"Building healthy communities doesn’t happen by chance," Decter Hirst said. "And I’ve got to commend Dr. Poff and the people who worked tirelessly to make sure that this facility got built and got open because … what we’re trying to do is to not only attract students to our campus … but also to encourage the people who live in this region and this city to become physically active."
Caldwell graduated from BU in 1982, and he recalled discussions around an athletic field house back then.
"It’s really fantastic to see, 30 years later, the fruition of what was a dream for many people back then," he said. "It’s really wonderful to be a part of and it’s great that the province was a major contributor."
Construction of the $20-million, state-of-the-art facility began in August 2011. It includes three full-sized gymnasiums, a four-lane walking and jogging track, a fitness facility with new resistance and weight-training equipment, and a regional hard court facility with 1,000 spectator seats. It’s open to students as well as the wider community.
It is the home of the BU Bobcats, providing a national-level competition space for volleyball and basketball.
"It’s been a great transition," said Dan Boutwell, co-captain of the BU volleyball team. "This is amazing to be playing here, to have the whole crowd come out and watch the games, it’s been awesome."
A short film was shown at the event, documenting the project from beginning to end. Letters, programs, team tickets among other things were put into a time capsule, that will be installed near the facility’s main entrance.
"It’s a tremendous facility, it’s the centre of our universe here, if you will in Brandon-Souris," Maguire said following the speeches. "To have this is a draw for students from across Canada, never mind just our neighbours to the west. This is a tremendous facility and I’m really glad that the federal government chose to be a part of it."
The federal government contributed $5.3 million through the Building Canada Fund. The province also contributed $5.3 million, while the City of Brandon provided $1.8 million.
Brandon University and Foundation donors provided $8.1 million.
Poff says there is still some fundraising needed for the facility. While she wouldn’t say the exact dollar figure, she said it is "not a huge gap," and hinted about a $500,000 announcement to be made in the next few weeks.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 1, 2014