By Krysten Cripps, Sports Editor
A lot of buzz has been going around Lakehead about the proposed new athletic facility, “Building Lakehead’s Future.” The current Hangar facility was constructed 10 years ago for about 6 million dollars, and several students and staff at the university agree that it’s time for an update.
The proposed Student Recreation Centre may have new facilities that include a climbing wall, more cardio and weight lifting machines, food and juice bars, and basketball courts. The Argus had the opportunity to speak with Torin Bergagnini, one of the members of the student committee for Building Lakehead’s Future.
Torin told us that the chair of the board, Manny Cabrera, was the one who got the ball rolling on the new facility, “He would constantly complain about the current facility on ‘Lakehead Confessions’ so the athletics director, Tom Warden, called him into his office and asked him to work together to improve the facility and from there the idea came to make a student committee for Building Lakehead’s Future.” There are currently there are 10 people on the committee.
The original plan was to start building the facility in the coming year, but because of some setbacks this is no longer the case. Torin said, “Our goal was originally to go to referendum this year, but that didn’t happen, so our goal will be to go to referendum next year.” From here there will be approximately a year and a half of construction time. Torin also added, “We have no intention of updating the current facility.” To elaborate more on some specifics to look forward to from the new facility, Torin explained, “Our number one goal is to create more space to make it more comfortable for student’s to work out. Ideally, we would like to create more space, bring in new equipment; we would like a new basketball court in there right now. Most schools have two courts available so other students can use a court when athletes are using one. We would love to create some retail space to give students some more options here on campus, for example putting in a pharmacy or something along those lines.”
Torin and the committee have been holding information sessions and set up information booths in the school throughout the school year and they have had positive feedback, “The people who are interested that we run into on campus at our information sessions are people who came to the facility a few times, hated it, and would buy a gym membership somewhere else to use another gym while also paying the student fees for the gym we have here on campus.” Along with verbal communication, online surveys have been offered to students to share their views as Torin stated, “We worked alongside LUSU, the athletics department, and ourselves to come up with a survey. Results for the most part were positive, which reinforced what our information sessions showed.” Unfortunately, they didn’t have the turnout for the survey that they hoped, so the results were inconclusive.
The Argus also had the opportunity to speak with some current Lakehead students about their thoughts on the new facility.
Second year business student David Anang, who uses the current facilities regularly and is an active participant in intramural sports, said, “I feel like the equipment and other parts of the facility should be upgraded as well. The field in the hangar is one thing that gets used quite often and definitely needs upgrades. If the current facilities are not upgraded everyone will just be using the new facilities and the lack of space will again be an issue.”
Another student, in fourth year kinesiology, Aliesha Greve, also regularly uses the facilities. She won’t be here to see the new facility, but still wanted to comment as she feels strongly about the accessibility issues in the athletic facility: “The accessibility needs to be improved, which I think is one of the most important things. The facility is about health promotion and inclusiveness. How can you have an inclusive environment when it’s not accessible? Every year in the kinesiology department, a class does a lab that looks at wheelchair accessibility across campus and every year the reports indicate our school has very poor wheelchair accessibility. The Fieldhouse is one of the worst buildings on campus.”
It is currently unknown how much the new student funded Centre will cost, but there is an idea of how student fees will be altered. Current fees are $70 per student. Torin said, “We know our cost is going to come in somewhere roughly between $100 to $150 per student per year.” To put these numbers into perspective, compared to all Ontario universities, the amount that LU students currently pay for athletic and recreation related service fees is less than what two-thirds of other universities charge their students.
In Torin’s final comments he wanted to clear up any confusion surrounding student fees by stating, “We do have bridge financing security so if we were to get a referendum, the payments for the facility wouldn’t actually start until the doors for the new facility are opened. Students who are not going to be here when the facility opens are not going to have to pay for it.”
Be sure to look for more information in the coming school year regarding more information on the facility.