Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/3/2012 (3035 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The University of Winnipeg’s proposed new $40-million athletic field house could be a boon for inner-city organizations that run sports programming for youth, according to some neighbourhood groups.
At the beginning of March, the university approved construction of the field house. Shovels are expected to hit the ground by spring 2012, with the facility open in fall 2013.
The three-story complex, to be built on Spence Street, will have a large multi-use artificial turf field that can be broken down into three smaller pitches, a sprint track, practice gymnasium, and dance and yoga studios. Inner-city youth will have regular access to organized leagues, sports camps, dance and cultural activities and collaborative programs with university athletes.
"I think we can see an expansion of our sports program," said Jamil Mahmood, executive director of the Spence Neighbourhood Association.
Last year, through a pilot soccer program, along with a basketball program, the SNA provided access to sports for 570 kids, Mahmood said.
The SNA received a letter from the university guaranteeing that one-third of the field time between 3:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. will be open to the community, Mahmood said. However, he noted there is some skepticism about the project, pointing to the university’s Duckworth Centre as an example.
"They promised a great community facility (then), hired a community co-ordinator, but two years later, the co-ordinator was gone," Mahmood said. "It never really became the community-use building it was supposed to be."
Jeremy Read, senior executive officer and advisor to university president Lloyd Axworthy, acknowledged the failure of Duckworth Centre.
The university said it is backing up its commitment with a community charter, currently being drafted with the help of 18 eighteen youth-serving agencies like the SNA.
"(Duckworth) created some significant tension between university and surrounding community," Read said. "What we want to do different this time is ensure there is something in writing, for perpetuity sake, so that it can’t be reneged on."
One third of the field house time will for university use, with another third for rented space, like sports league, Read said. The last third will be for community use, and how that will work is still being determined, he said.
"For the most part, we want to drive enough revenue to operate the field house in way that is open and accessible to the community at little to no cost," said Read.
"What we want to do is drive as many people into the building to learn and achieve and learn through sport as we can."
The facility will also house a wellness Centre, also open to the inner city community, offering athletic therapy and x-ray services along with other health and nutrition programs.
The centre will allow the faculty of kinesiology to increase its teaching, research, activity offerings, community programs, health services, student practicums, and part-time employment opportunities for students, Read said.
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