The 2019 Canada Winter Games reached yet another milestone Wednesday in naming its legacy facility.
The Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport at Red Deer College will now be known as the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
RDC President and CEO Joel Ward believes the Canada Games Harris Centre is the largest legacy facility ever created.
"When you think about the fact a million people go up and down that highway ever year, when they go past that facility as a gateway to the community, they'll also know that this college and the programs that we have here were connected at one time to the Canada Winter Games," he said. "It brings more provincial and national recognition. It's a real privilege for us to have that name in our community."
The announcement also celebrated the official partnership between RDC, the City of Red Deer and the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society. $6.5-million of previously allocated City funding is now earmarked specifically for the Harris Centre, while an additional $5-million from the Host Society.
With construction work well underway, Ward says passers-by will soon begin to see the Centre take shape.
"It just gives me goosebumps every day I drive by because it's just huge for the College."
2019 Canada Games Board Chair Lyn Radford said organizers continue to be very excited about how close the Games are getting.
"It was over two years ago that it was announced we got the Games. Thinking about how fast that time has gone now and thinking that's the same amount of time until tee-off," she said. "There's lots of work to do and announcements to come and we're really looking forward to that."
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said the City has a long history of game-changing partnerships.
"Ultimately, the Games are serving as a catalyst for our community to realize long-standing dreams. The Canada Games Harris Centre and today's agreement are strong examples of that fact."
Veer also said the future economic impact of the Games has ushered in federal infrastructure dollars for several local projects.
"Those dollars are coming to our community in a time when we need it most and it's actually bringing stability to our community throughout the deep and protracted recession we're navigating through," she said. "For example, the dollar allocation for the Harris Centre, money that's come to us for the Red Deer Regional Airport, as well as for the QE2 interchange."
The projected economic impact is $132-million.
"Sport is community building, and community building is country building," Veer added.
In 2014, the City of Red Deer committed $26-million towards the Games, but it hadn't been publicly announced where all of it would go.
The $88-million Harris Centre will feature an Olympic-sized ice surface that can be converted to NHL-size, a gymnasium to replace the current one which has been in commission since 1963, a fitness facility, squash courts, an indoor track and teaching and learning spaces. During the Games, it will play host to squash, short track speed skating, figure skating, badminton and wheelchair basketball.
"This facility will not only create a legacy for our community, it will also help shape the future of Red Deer College by providing opportunities for the continued evolution of our programming, including the addition of degrees," said Shelley Ralston, Chair of the RDC Board of Governors.
"The Canada Games and their lasting legacies continue to be the catalyst for growth of sport and recreation across our country," said Tom Quinn, Canada Games Council Chairman.
"The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux Canada Gary W. Harris is yet another example of a signature legacy facility that will benefit a Host City for years to come."
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