The Government of Canada announced on Tuesday that they would be funding four city sport and recreation projects to the tune of $728,612.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Sport and Minister of Health, and gold medal Olympian, Adam van Koeverden, announced the funding at Vivo for Healthier Generations in the city’s northeast.
The money was provided from the federal government’s Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF), which aims to revitalize and improve community infrastructure post-pandemic.
“Our government understands that Calgary has gone through some challenging times over the last couple of years, and this is true in sporting events too,” said van Koeverden.
“It’s time to rebuild,” he said.
The Vivo for Healthier Generations Society was the recipient of $490,000. They will be using it for the construction of a new outdoor plaza, and improve Vivo’s facility accessibility.
The Hawkwood Community Association received $85,612 for their outdoor recreation and fitness facility.
The Alberta Urban Athletics Association will be receiving $78,000 towards a new outdoor gym at the Crescent Height Staircase at McHugh Bluff.
The City of Calgary will get $75,000 to expand and revitalize four outdoor basketball courts in Saddle Ridge, Coventry Hills, and McKenzie Lake.
The province previously announced $771,000 for the Hawkwood Outdoor Recreation Facility, which opened in January of this year. The province also announced $150,000 in funding for Vivo, and $35,000 for the Alberta Urban Athletics Association.
Infrastructure investments needed in north Calgary
Ward 3 Councillor and former Olympian, Jasmine Mian, praised the investment by the federal and provincial government.
“It’s so important, and there’s a real desire and yearning for this type of infrastructure,” she said.
“I think it’s because of the spiralling effect of what that infrastructure does, which is create social connection that allows people to get to know their neighbours, especially after the pandemic—we have a lot of healing and reconnecting to do.”
Coun. Mian said that Ward 3 citizens would be particularly interested in the addition of additional basketball court space.
“In Coventry, the basketball courts getting revitalized is so important. I know kids are going to play there and pretend to be the Toronto Raptors winning a championship,” she said.
“It’s those types of memories that get made in our community that create that sense of belonging.”
Cynthia Watson, CEO for Vivo for Healthier Generalizations Society, said when their facility opened served 75,000 community members. That’s grown to over 190,000 in the past 10 years.
Creating accessibility, diversity of experience, and meeting community needs
When completed the Vivo facility will have a first-of-its-kind year-round indoor park that will include green space with a Nordic-style fire pit, an enhanced aquatics area, a far larger cardio and workout area, and additional community meeting areas.
Watson said that the funding from the CCRF would be used towards the outdoor plaza portion of that project.
“The accessibility elements will include things like widened sidewalks, crosswalks, tactile tiles, curb cuts, and some widening of the parking stalls,” she said.
“And they may seem like small details, but those are the things that meet people coming here with ease and grace, and not have to struggle through that every day to actually enjoy what they wanted to here.”
Other barrier-free access points to Vivo are included in the overall $62 million renovation and expansion project. There are barrier-free reception counters, security gates, sloped entry to lane pools, pool lifts for people in wheelchairs, and expanded clearance in rooms, washrooms, and change rooms.
Currently, the project is under construction, with phased rollouts of facilities planned. The expanded cardio and workout room will be opened by January of 2023, and the remainder of the facility following in late-spring or early summer.
Vivo is expecting that this will reduce long wait-lists for membership, and for access. Annual visit capacity is expected to increase by 50 per cent to almost 3,000,000 per year.
A full list of the expansion additions, and renderings of the final completed design, are available at www.vivo.ca/expansion.
McHugh Bluff outdoor gym to divert thousands from staircase
John Schmidt, Treasurer and Vice-President, Alberta Urban Athletics Association said that they would be creating a first of its kind in Canada outdoor gym at McHugh Bluff.
“What we’re doing is just building this customized fitness equipment that people can use year-round on the site,” he said.
“This isn’t the same type of outdoor fitness equipment you’d normally see around the city. Normally, the fitness equipment in the city right now are your self powered ellipticals and stuff like that, whereas this is going to be a lot of pull-up bars, dip stations, and the like.”
Schmidt said the goal was to create the type of equipment to allow people to do the same types of exercises they are using the staircase for right now.
“If you’ve ever spent time there, people are literally doing pull-ups off the back of the stairs, so the idea is we’re pulling them off and giving them a designated site to do that,” he said.
He said that diverting people away from exercising directly in the path of runners, with dedicated space and proper equipment, it would provide a better experience for everyone.
He said that there was the potential to divert thousands of users each year to the outdoor gym, thereby freeing up that space for runners and pathway users.
The site located next to the pump station at Memorial Drive and next to the Calgary Curling Club has already been prepped for work. Schmidt said that the gym equipment has been ordered, and installation and site development should be completed by the winter.