Canada Games Center: a construction project with benefits

HALIFAX – Things are progressing nicely in the construction of the Canada Games Center on Halifax’s Mainland North Common. Margaret Soley in HRM’s department of Infrastructure and Asset Management says that construction crews are hitting all of their major targets as far as time-line is concerned. She expects that the field house, fitness center and community center components of the facility will be weather-tight by December 22nd of this year with the remaining pool area all sealed up by late January 2010. If this keeps up, Soley expects that the Center will be finished on time and on budget for the December 2011 deadline.

The Center is being constructed for the 2011 Canada Winter Games, which will take place throughout Halifax and the surrounding area. It’s the largest project associated with the games, and with a $40 million price tag, HRM sees the center as “the cornerstone of the sporting legacy that will accompany the 2011 Canada Winter Games.”

Halifax and the surrounding area will see a number of other infrastructure improvements related to the games, in total there will be $15 million in other capital improvements: Ski Martock and Ski Wentworth are receiving a combined $7.6 million to make improvements to their trails and snow making abilities; St. Margret’s Center in St Margret’s Bay is getting a little more than nine-hundred thousand dollars for improvements to its ice rink and seating; and the Halifax Forum is also getting about $900,000 for improvements to its dressing room and concourse areas. You can see a full list of all the improvements here.

This may sound like it’s getting a bit expensive, but it’s likely that all the improvments are an investment that will pay off — organizers estimate that the Games will bring in about $80 million into the Halifax economy. That seems like a fair estimate if the Games go anything like the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. A report by the Canada Sport Tourism Alliance says that the 2007 games contributed about $75 million to the GDP and was responsible for about $175 million in economic activity in the Yukon.

When completed, the 176,000 square-foot Canada Games Center will include an eight lane competition pool, a water slide, a sauna, a dance studio and more.

The Center will also be energy efficient, earning a LEED silver rating. Some of the green features of the Center include solar panels, recycled building materials and a system that collects rainwater to use for toilets and watering the baseball field.

Soley says that if everything goes smoothly, HRM would like to have a ‘soft opening’ of the facility to the public for January 2011, before the games start in February. The center will be fully open to the public and 100% programmed for April first 2011. Programs offered by the center will include things like basketball, judo, volleyball, and even dance classes.

If you live downtown like me, the Center may be a little bit out of reasonable biking distance, but it is fairly accessible by public transit. When I went out to Clayton Park to take a look at the construction site, I caught the 42 bus on Robie and took it to the Lacewood Terminal, the center is a five minute walk up the hill from the terminal, the ride was about a half an hour each way. The 42 only runs during the school year but there are other buses that you can take from downtown on the weekends.

If you’d like to see the progress on the Center for yourself, you can check out this pretty cool time lapsed video of the construction.

For more information on the Center check out www.halifax.ca/canadaGamesCentre. To learn more about the Canada Games check out www.canadagames2011.ca.

Photo/Video Courtesy of Halifax Regional Municipality