Future possibilities: Collecting your ideas for fitness and recreation facilities at Dal
Drop-in sessions across campus
Ryan McNutt - March 12, 2013
Update, March 27: Come out to the McInnes Room, Student Union Building, on Wednesday, April 3 (doors at 7, presentations at 7:30 p.m.) to hear from the project team about programming recommendations and next steps for Dalhousie’s new fitness and recreation facilities. Learn more.
If you’ve seen a set of colourful poster boards making the rounds on campus recently, it’s well worth your while to stop and check them out — especially if you have ideas or opinions about fitness, recreation and athletics at Dal.
The project team responsible for planning a major revamp to Dal’s fitness and recreation facilities is taking its consultations on the road. Over the course of two weeks, the team will visit 13 different locations on Dal’s Halifax campuses, chatting with students and community members about what they’d like to see included in their plans.
“It’s a very high level conversation,” explains Nathan Rogers, capital development planner at Dal, chatting with Dal News on Friday during a drop-in session in the Student Union Building lobby.
“It’s about determining needs and collecting information about what people want to see — a ‘wish list,’ pretty much — so that when it comes time to start prioritizing what should be included, we can focus on the ideas that students and our community more broadly are passionate about,” he says.
Link: Full schedule of drop-in sessions
Dal students are passionate about recreation and fitness — but in recent years, a good deal of that passion has been in the negative direction. A 2006 survey found widespread dissatisfaction with the state of university’s facilities, and in the most recent Canadian University Survey Consortium survey (a national assessment of student satisfaction) Dal students rated athletics facilities far lower than any other campus service.
“People are disappointed with the current condition of the facilities,” says Rogers, when asked what he’s hearing from the students he’s talking with. “But they’re optimistic about the future. We’re getting some great responses.”
Upgrading and expanding athletics and recreation facilities is one of the pillars of Dal’s Campus Master Plan. In April 2010, the Board of Governors approved a $180 fitness and recreation facility fee to support building of new facilities, but the fee won’t be implemented until a new facility is actually open. The location of a new facility is still to be determined — options could include the Memorial Arena site, the current site of Eliza Ritchie Hall or elsewhere — which is one reason why Rogers and his team are eager to chat with students at this point.
“We have a chance to think outside the box a bit,” says Rogers. “We’re asking for any and all feedback.”
At the drop-in sessions, you can chat with a representative from the project team or respond to a series of big questions on the poster boards, adding their own notes to the discussion. Others have been sharing their ideas on Twitter, with the hashtag #DalFitness. There have also been consultations with Dal employees and Dalplex members.
The consultants working on the project — Halifax architects Fowler Bauld & Mitchell Ltd., in partnership with Toronto-based MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects — will review all the ideas and share a draft program, outlining their plan for what the new facilities could include, at a public meeting on April 3.
“It's an opportunity for students and the broader university community to let us know if we got it right,” says Rogers.
From there, the goal is to have a finalized program and a chosen site for the new facilities by year’s end, with a schematic design by early 2014.