Proposed rec centre, currently seeking community feedback, aims to be a welcoming place for all

It’s been nine months since the UBC Board of Governors gave Board 1 approval for a new recreation centre to be built north of the UBC Life Building. The project is now seeking community consultation and is set to begin construction in 2022.

The proposed 9,377 square metre, 3-storey facility is part of the ongoing UBC GamePlan strategy approved by the Board of Governors in 2017, which aims to build more fitness spaces on campus.

“Right now, we have three recreational gymnasiums in the [ARC] centre that are often full,” said Michael Tan, UBC’s director of intramurals and recreation. “There is a demand that exceeds what we are able to provide to our student base.”

The proposed recreation facility includes three full-size gymnasium courts and spaces for multipurpose use. The space also includes a 200-metre indoor track.

According to Nick Sully, architect and managing partner at SHAPE Architecture — the firm hired to design the space — the new facility is designed to meet LEED Gold Certification, an internationally accepted benchmark for green building construction, in order to align with UBC’s sustainability goals.

The facility spaces are also designed to take in more natural light through glazed windows positioned along the indoor track, lobby, gym and fitness spaces.

Some COVID-friendly elements, according to Sully, include an outdoor space on the third floor as well as ventilated multipurpose spaces throughout the facility.

Tan hopes the new facility becomes a welcoming space for all. He said the building will have both universal and gendered changing rooms.

“We are conscious of the fact that the fitness centres often — for those who are not comfortable coming into the space — are perceived as expert areas … we need to send a message that when you come in, you are welcome.”

This week, Campus and Community Planning is hosting a virtual open house for the new recreation centre. Students can also provide feedback through a comment form.

According to Karen Russell, UBC’s Manager of Development Services, and Dave Poettcker, Director of Development at UBC Properties Trust, all feedback will be collected and sent over to the project team to help inform its next stages of development.

AMS President Cole Evans said he thinks the new rec centre will be a “great addition” to campus. The AMS is providing $22,500,000 to fund the project through the athletics fee, approved by referendum in 2017. The entire project will cost $65 million.

The AMS has representatives on the steering committee and the design working group for the project.

“Some of the things we have been pushing for is accessibility and the importance of space being accessible,” Evans said. “We make sure that we are pushing for a lot of facilities that the students want, so a variety of fitness facilities, a low-barrier fitness space.”

“I think that when it opens in a couple of years, it’s going to make a huge difference.”