The University of Winnipeg completed its goal of creating an indoor soccer facility for the students, staff, and community.
The university hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $40-million facility, the UNITED Health & RecPlex on June 17. According to Jeremy Read, U of W’s senior executive officer and advisor to the president, they had obtained a temporary occupancy permit for the occasion, otherwise the public is not allowed inside the site until construction is done, which is slated to be around mid-August. Read said the official grand opening of the RecPlex will likely be in the fall, as the RecPlex is currently 90 per cent finished being built.
"There’s some painting, some drywall, that needs to be done. Some equipment needs to get in there. There’s some painting on the gym floor and things like that which need to be done," Read listed.
As a result, it’ll be the fall season when not only staff and students can use the RecPlex, but so can members of the community. And that will be made possible with the community charter.
"The community charter started initially with a community consultation about the building and a desire on the behalf of the university," Read explained.
The community charter is a document that describes guidelines and rules on accessibility, inclusivity, and accountability of the RecPlex, which can be found at http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/cms-filesystem-action/pdfs/recplex/united-health-and-recplex-community-charter.pdf
A rule in the charter states that the U of W must allow for one-third of community use of the RecPlex, which is something a lot of local organizations are excited about.
Will Tarleton, sports co-ordinator for the Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA), said he has a seat on the community access committee, allowing him to work closely with the U of W and other youth-serving agencies to make sure the principles in the charter are upheld.
"What we’re working for are groups in the inner city that want access to recreational facilities," Tarleton said. "It’s meant for groups that probably don’t have access to a facility like that elsewhere."
Tarleton said the SNA’s soccer program has more than 200 kids who currently play in a small school field.
"It’s really undersized," Tarleton said.
Once the RecPlex is open for use in the fall, Tarleton said he can’t wait to let the kids start playing there.
"We’re thrilled. It’s going to be a big change in what we can offer through our programming," Tarleton said. "We’re happy about having a new recreational facility in the area."
Adam Dooley, president of the Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association, said there are 8,000 registered soccer players for the summer and usually 5,000 for the winter for indoor soccer, and they have been using substandard facilities for a long time.
"It’s absolutely wonderful to see a first-class facility like this, and we’re really looking forward to using it," Dooley said.
Manitoba Soccer Association executive director Hector Vergara is also pleased with the upcoming opening of the RecPlex this fall.
"Our weather conditions limit the development of the game in the province. As such, venues like this one will help to create more opportunities for the development of players, coaches and referees," Vergara said in an email, as he is on vacation.
Funds for the RecPlex consisted of $2 million from the city, $15 million from the province, $12 million from student fees, and the rest from revenues throughout the building, such as rentals and the parkade.