School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education upgrade options being developed

UVic’s School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education facilities could soon be undergoing an upgrade.

Some of the athletics and recreation facilities are over 40 years old and no longer meet the needs of those who use them. Classrooms and teaching labs in the McKinnon Building are overcrowded, and research laboratory space is limited.

Students, faculty and staff at UVic have historically had some of the highest rates of participation in recreation activities at universities across Canada, and while this is good in terms of community wellness, it puts a strain on recreation facilities. As UVic works to achieve its strategic goal of being a university of choice for outstanding students, faculty and staff, its amenities, including our athletics and recreation facilities, need to meet the expectations of our campus community.

In June 2006 the Department of Athletics and Recreation and School of Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education embarked on a comprehensive facility assessment study of all on-campus athletic, recreation and physical education facilities. The study sought to examine the internal needs of the two departments—for varsity sports, student and university community recreation, and teaching and research.

The study team was chaired by Kristi Simpson (budget and capital planning) and included Dr. Lara Lauzon (physical education), Dino Valeri (facilities management) and Clint Hamilton (athletics and recreation). The university retained the consultation services of Yates, Thorn & Associates, Moore Paterson Architects and G.P. Rollo & Associates.

The procedure included student surveys and on-campus interviews and meetings. It also engaged and consulted the many community charity, sport and school organizations that currently use the university facilities, along with the neighbouring community groups.

“By and large, our students use these facilities and services more than those at other Canadian universities,” says Hamilton. “Providing better quality and capacity of facilities will further contribute to the student experience and play a key role in attracting and retaining students, faculty and staff. In addition, with more capacity, we will be in a position to respond to community demand better than we currently do.”

Currently, local sport organizations, community and charity groups use the UVic facilities as much as 200 hours each week.

The consultants’ report suggests an assortment of possibilities—from simply maintaining the buildings, to building a major addition to the McKinnon Building so that most of the services are under one roof, to constructing a new building. A new building could include a pool, varsity gym with spectator seating, fitness centre and weight room. The building could also provide expanded academic space for teaching and research focussing on physical and health education and wellness. It could also house CanAssist, a UVic non-profit organization that builds individualized technology for persons with disabilities. The costs associated with the various scenarios would range from $10 million to simply maintain the buildings, to $90 million to construct a new building.

Athletics and recreation; the School of Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education; facilities management; and CanAssist are reviewing scenarios and developing a sustainable business and operational plan for the facilities. In addition, the university will be consulting with students.

The university is also exploring potential sources of revenue—including government funding, private donors, revenue from additional programs due to increased capacity, student fees and institutional funding.

UVic’s on-campus facilities include the McKinnon Building (built 1974), Ian H. Stewart Complex (built mid-1960s and acquired in 1992), Centennial Stadium (built 1967), Wallace Field, a water-based artificial field hockey pitch (nearing completion), full-size artificial turf playing field (opened 2006), and Velox field (acquired 2004). In addition there is a disc golf course (on the Cedar Hill Corner Property) and a sailing compound located at Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay. The Vikes varsity rowing teams share the boathouse at Elk Lake as their training base and the swim teams train at Saanich Commonwealth Place. However, the proposed scenarios only cover the redevelopment of the on-campus facilities.

Figures for the year ended June 2007 show there were nearly 600,000 visits to the Ian H. Stewart Complex (ISC), including 265,000 visits to the ISC Weight Centre and 17,000 visits to the ISC pool; 250,000 visits to the McKinnon Building, including 27,000 visits to the McKinnon pool. In addition, nearly 7,000 students participated in the Vikes intramural programs in 12 sports across 59 leagues, and more than 2,000 UVic students were active members of the 26 Vikes sport clubs. During that same time period there were 3,100 participants in over 60 instructional recreation courses and informal recreation (drop-in) experiences for 20,000 visitors a year. In addition, nearly half a million dollars was invested in student employment in recreation.

“It is clear that significant financial investment is needed to maintain our current facilities,” says Hamilton. “With this in mind, we have the opportunity to apply this investment to facilities that will better meet our athletic, recreational and community requirements.”

A recommendation regarding the various scenarios will be presented to the Board of Governors in the fall.


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Keywords: options, developed, fitness

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