It was an occasion several years in the making and the people in attendance were unanimously blown away.
On Wednesday, officials at Red Deer College, as well as from The City of Red Deer, and dignitaries from the provincial government officially opened the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
The $88 million facility is the primary legacy venue of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, which come to Red Deer next February.
“The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre is an extraordinary addition to our College and our community,” said Joel Ward, RDC President & CEO. “This building is a symbol of RDC’s future – for our students, faculty, staff, community members and partners. And today we take a huge step forward on this future path as we celebrate this grand opening and continue to transition to a recognized university.”
The centre will benefit student-athletes on 17 teams under the banner of RDC Athletics and six teams will compete there including both Kings and Queens teams for basketball, volleyball and hockey. It will be the first time that the school's hockey teams will train and compete on campus.
In addition to also being host to several events during the 2019 Canada Winter Games, the centre will be open to the community, with memberships for squash, public skating, members only classes, the fitness centre and running track available.
There is also a vast amount of teaching space at the centre, one portion of which is the Donald Health and Wellness Centre -- named for Jack and Joan Donald -- on the building's southwest corner.
“This building will have a tremendous impact on our region, and community members will benefit directly and indirectly from the facility, which further positions Red Deer College and Red Deer as a destination for a wide range of activities and opportunities,” said Morris Flewwelling, RDC Board Chair. “We’re embarking on an exciting new future, and the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre simply wouldn’t have been possible without all of the work and contributions from our partners who have dedicated themselves to achieving this goal.”
Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt was also on hand for the event and said it was nice to see this day finally come.
"Clearly the people of Red Deer have supported the college's vision for serving students and the community of central Albert in a number of ways including making this fantastic facility available," he said. "I want to commend Joel and everybody else at RDC, the City and everyone who was involved in the construction for making this a reality. This is going to be a legacy the people involved will be proud of for many years."
Red Deer College is hosting a community day at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Thursday.
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