SA board members (left to right) Katrina Medina, Cat Coleman, Emily Ferguson and Jessica Akwaeke, took part in the facility's grand opening event.

The Algonquin College Students’ Association celebrated the official opening of the ARC on Monday, April 4 with speeches by the college and SA’s presidents, a visit by the mayor, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and building tours.

The 125,000 square foot Jack Doyle Athletics and Recreation Centre, located to the northeast of the Student Commons across from the residence building, has been open to students and staff since Sept. 27.

The ARC includes a rock-climbing wall, a turf training area, a 10,000 square foot free weight area, a walking/running track, a fitness area with cardio equipment, three gymnasiums, a golf simulator and bowling lanes, a restaurant and a bar.

It was jointly funded by the Students’ Association, which contributed $49.9 million, and Algonquin College, which gave $5.5 million toward construction and $11.9 million for the pedestrian link, road upgrades and other infrastructure upgrades.

The state-of-the-art facility provides many activity options to students and staff, and is also the home base for the Algonquin Wolves women’s and men’s basketball teams.

Emily Ferguson, president of the Algonquin Students’ Association, said she was there from the start and was able to see it grow throughout the pandemic.

“To have everyone in one place, in one giant building, to see everyone there was emotional,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson said that she was happy to see everything and celebrate all the hard work that was done.

“To actually have students coming in and playing and working out and doing everything here, it’s been incredible to see them walk in and their eyes light up when they see the building,” said Ferguson.

The Students’ Association president said students wanted something for their physical and mental health and this facility has something for everyone.

“If you’re not a huge gym geek, you can bowl or get great food and to just be with friends is wonderful,” said Ferguson. “I think coming out of this pandemic and having a social place that students can go to is healthy and fantastic.”

Jack Doyle, the SA’s general manager and the building’s namesake, said all students can take advantage of the facility.

“[The students] have the right to come here and use all the facilities, the bowling and climbing wall and there are no user fees,” said Doyle. “So that’s designed to make it accessible. We’re just so excited that Algonquin students will have a facility like this for the next 30 or 40 years.”

Claude Brulé, president of Algonquin College, said the facility symbolizes the meaning of collaboration and partnership.

“I want to sincerely congratulate our Students’ Association, the many college departments involved, and our partners for completing this building during a global pandemic,” said Brulé. “You were met with challenges unlike any we have seen before.”

Jim Watson, the mayor of Ottawa, congratulated the student body for the great initiative.

“Funded through student fees, not from the college itself, I think that’s a remarkable achievement in itself,” Watson said. “Getting it built-in during COVID is really quite special. Congratulations to the student leaders and the students who will benefit from this facility for decades to come.”

Watson also congratulated the many people who contributed to making the building possible, including Jack Doyle.

“He was the guiding force to help the Students’ Association transition after every election,” Watson said. “And obviously, his fingerprints are all over this project. Because you need that kind of expertise to take a project of this magnitude and then see it over the finish line.”

Staff from the facility were assigned to do a walking tour around the building.

Timothy Lee, manager, athletic operations – fitness, said that after seeing all the senior management, the board of directors and Jack Doyle can now really celebrate the fruits of their labour.

“They’ve all worked so hard with their planning for several years,” Lee said. “It started 10 years ago with this and then to build it during COVID, with all the challenges faced with that, I really do think that’s a highlight for me and to see them realize this dream.”

Lee encourages students to come and enjoy the facility.

“My team and I welcome you with open arms,” said Lee. “We’ll work hard to make this a very positive experience for you that you’ll remember for the rest of your lifetime.”