Algonquin students may see a new athletics facility as early as 2019.
The current SA board of directors has begun the process of developing a plan for the athletics and recreation complex. The ARC, as it has been referred to, has been a major talking point for the SA presidential election candidates.
The 2017 SA vice president Charlene Dygos is one of the board members strongly involved in the planning. She went and toured the facilities of other post-secondary institutions to draw inspiration for what they wanted to include at Algonquin.
The University of Victoria was one of the major influencers.
“It’s one of the ones we’re choosing to model after, especially their gymnasium,” said Dygos. She also took inspiration from the rock climbing wall at the University of Alberta and the pool facilities of the University of Akron in Ohio.
The facility is intended to be a part of the healthy living initiative at the college.
“It’s a part of this belief that’s been growing in the past few years that healthy bodies equal healthy minds,” said current board member and presidential candidate Egor Evseev. “It addresses a lot of the issues that we’ve heard for years now from students.”
These include space, food options and activity options. One of the main goals is to include something for everyone in the new building. There have been discussions about a gym, running track, climbing wall and pool, as well as more food sale locations, bowling lanes and a new pub.
The facility would be located on the corner of Navaho Drive and Woodroffe Avenue, attached to the current gym.
The project remains in the early stages and no official timeline or budget has been set as of yet. Dygos estimated a cost of $20 million but this could easily change.
“We’re so early right now that we don’t really have a financial model set up yet,” said Dygos. “We are looking at a base around $20 million for the facility cost, it could be higher, could be lower.”
The funding would come from money in a reserve bank and loans.
The current plan for paying off these loans is to introduce a user fee that all students would have to pay in their tuition – instead of a gym membership fee that you can choose to buy. The fee would not be introduced until the building was completed. This is the way that many post-secondary institutions operate their athletic facilities.
However, there are have been a few questions raised about this type of membership.
Luke Vucetic, the other presidential candidate, expressed concern that with all students having access, the gym might be overcrowded – an issue that has been raised about the current fitness area which requires an additional paid membership.
Although few specifics have been determined, the project will continue to move forward – no matter who is elected. As the plan is developed over the next year, consultations with students will also take place.
“I would love to have it be 100 per cent student feedback,” said Vucetic.