U of W vows RecPlex open to inner city

Axworthy promises access at sod-turning for $40-M centre


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The University of Winnipeg promised the inner city access to the Duckworth Centre decades ago and then forgot that promise. That won't happen with the new $40-million United Health & RecPlex, president Lloyd Axworthy vowed Thursday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/09/2012 (3804 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The University of Winnipeg promised the inner city access to the Duckworth Centre decades ago and then forgot that promise. That won’t happen with the new $40-million United Health & RecPlex, president Lloyd Axworthy vowed Thursday.

The community will enjoy one-third of the use of the new indoor soccer complex and health and wellness facility, Axworthy said, and the Duckworth Centre will be included in that promised access.

The massive inner-city recreation centre should be open in the spring of 2014.

Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press Hugh John MacDonald School students Adija Bayubahe (left) and Raven Guiboche-Bluebird play at the RecPlex site.

The complex, which will be connected to the second floor of the Duckworth Centre, will run almost to Portage Avenue between Spence and Young streets.

Axworthy told a huge crowd at Thursday’s sod-turning ceremony that the university’s board of regents has approved a community charter, with principles binding the university to providing the inner city with access to the facilities.

“We’re integrating the Duckworth with this program,” said Axworthy, who added meetings with community groups are translating into “actual working arrangements.”

The U of W made similar commitments when the Duckworth gym was built, Axworthy said, but those commitments were later forgotten.

Axworthy emphasized that while the complex will have three large indoor soccer fields, which can be opened up to a full-sized field for soccer, ultimate, baseball and other activities, the complex is far from just a sports field.

There will be medical therapy, a walk-in clinic, the new faculty of kinesiology, an institute focused on concussions, health and wellness space, a 60-metre spring track, a student lounge and food outlet and yoga classes.

At the south end will be a dedicated indigenous space for drumming, smudging, powwows and healing, Axworthy said.

Axworthy said 3,000 young people already participate in the U of W’s sports and camps, and that number will grow when the new complex opens.

Premier Greg Selinger likened the project to the transformation of Central Park, which provided the inner city with an infusion of long-desired green space and recreational facilities.

“It’ll be a pathway to university, too — that’s what I like,” Selinger said.

The premier said the kids who use the U of W complex will come to feel at home on campus and will see they have the ability to become university students.

“That builds a base that they can see beyond Grade 12 and go on to post-secondary education,” he said.

Mayor Sam Katz said he sees hope, opportunity and vision in the project, and he’s never met anyone with as much impact on the city as Axworthy.

“We know that there’s so much potential in our community,” said Diane Roussin, executive director of the Ma Mawi We Chi Itata Centre. “It’s equally important to have a sense of belonging in our community.

“You’re moving to community engagement,” she told Axworthy.

U of W student Brandon Murdock told the crowd he was exposed to “the wrong crowds” while growing up in the inner city. He always wanted to take part in sports, but was often unable. “It was always too expensive, too far to travel.”

The U of W’s inner-city sports programs and camps gave him the opportunity to play, to have somewhere to go and to be involved with the right crowds, Murdock said.

Selinger briefly reminded the gathering that provincial support for the complex had been an election promise.

He said in an interview the government will announce further projects some time in the future — that election promise included another indoor soccer complex in north Winnipeg and four outdoor soccer complexes, each with two artificial-turf fields and lights.


Community charter guarantees pledge

The University of Winnipeg’s board of regents has approved a binding community charter that guarantees the inner city access to time and space at the new $40-million United Health & RecPlex indoor complex.

Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy speaks in front of an artist's rendering of the United Health & RecPlex.

The principles of that community charter:

Open to all community members as circumstances and physical space or economic limitations of the complex permit.

Inclusive of community members, uses and activities in a positive and welcoming way.

Accessible to community members of all socio-economic circumstances and abilities.

Respect to include both respect between persons and respect for the facility itself.

Development to create the environment and programs that promote achievement of personal goals and inspiration to others in setting and achieving their goals.

To support the social and economic development of the community.

To operate in a manner that develops, supports and encourages the incorporation of regular participation in physical activity and sport into the achievement of personal goals.


Health, wellness and healing:

To serve the health needs of both university and community members.

To promote healthy lifestyle choices such as nutrition, exercise, sleep and personal habits and make training and information available.

To incorporate healing into the concepts of health and healthy living.


To monitor, assess and report to the university and the community on facility use by the community and the success in realizing the principles.


To be fiscally self-sustaining, balancing the needs of multiple users.

To be environmentally self-sustaining.

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