The University of Winnipeg



Construction of New Health and Recreation Complex Begins

RecPlex Sod Turning

(left to right) Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz; Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy Erin Selby; Lieutenant Governor, Philip S. Lee; Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg; Premier of Manitoba, Greg Selinger; and Brandon Murdock, Collegiate graduate, UWinnipeg student and Inner City Wesmen athlete placed the first shovels in the ground Thursday, September 6, on the largest and most comprehensive athletic, health, wellness and healing facility ever built in the centre of the city. The complex will provide unparalleled recreational and health opportunities for the community, along with enhanced student sports programs. It will also add to the revitalization of Winnipeg’s downtown and West End neighbourhoods.

WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg, The Province of Manitoba, and the City of Winnipeg, surrounded by numerous community partners, officially “broke ground” today on Spence Street, beginning construction of The University of Winnipeg UNITED Health & RecPlex that will serve faculty, staff, students and Winnipeg residents, including those in the inner-city community, for many years to come.


The UNITED Health & RecPlex will be revenue-generating, with operations supported by a mix of user leases and parking fees and support from an athletic student fee which was approved in a student referendum last spring. Construction of the new facility is possible because of generous government grants, with the Province of Manitoba contributing $15 million.

“The Province is pleased to support this exciting project to expand recreational opportunities for The University of Winnipeg and families living in central Winnipeg,” Selinger said. “Students, university staff and the entire community will benefit for years to come from the facilities we are building here.”

In addition, the City of Winnipeg has committed $2 million to the project.

Architects rendering Sept 2012

Architects rendering Sept 2012

“This new athletics and wellness complex will enhance the experience of The University of Winnipeg student population and the people living in the surrounding area,” said Katz. “The Complex will offer unsurpassed recreational opportunities and health services to everyone in the inner-city neighbourhood.”

UWinnipeg currently supports 11 neighbourhood basketball and soccer teams involving 200 children and teenagers. The goal of the University is to expand its community programming to include sports such as baseball and wrestling, attracting up to 500 neighbourhood children and youth once the RecPlex is completed.

“We are creating a holistic wellness and recreation destination in the heart of Winnipeg, one that provides citizens of Winnipeg and neighbourhood residents with a world-class facility, giving children and teenagers a safe place to play and thrive,” said Axworthy. “Just as importantly, our students and faculty gain an important new resource on campus, and through collaborative community programs, increased access to hands-on academic research and practicum experiences.”


A Community Charter is in development with a broad coalition of youth-serving agencies and community stakeholders. An open neighbourhood Town Hall was held in June to help develop the Community Charter Principles — which include openness, inclusion, accessibility, accountability, respect, sustainability, health, wellness and healing. The Principles, ratified by UWinnipeg’s Board of Regents on June 18, 2012, guarantees access to community activities in the UNITED Health & RecPlex now and into the future. A full Community Charter will be unveiled in the near future and a Community-University Committee will be selected and announced to oversee community user-agreements for the facility on an ongoing basis.

In addition to the Community Charter, UWinnipeg is establishing a Sport For All Fund. Donations to the Fund will provide free access, quality recreational and cultural programs, cooperatives and mentorships for UWinnipeg students and athletes and academic bursaries for community children and youth.

“The new Complex will create a significant legacy for our city. The children and youth that we serve will now have a world class “home” to participate in sport and recreation in their community,” said Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg President, Ron Brown who is also a member of the Community Coalition. “I want to commend the leadership of the University for the vision in creating a new Community Charter that will guarantee access for inner-city youth for generations to come.”

“By working together to help one another, we can support community wellness,” said Executive Director, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Diane Roussin, who is also with UWinnipeg’s Indigenous Advisory Circle.“Creating positive opportunities to participate for kids, youth and families is key.”

UWinnipeg Students in Fitness Centre

Creating more recreation and wellness program

The new RecPlex

The new three-story RecPlex will help alleviate the chronic shortage of indoor recreational space in the centre of Winnipeg. The state of the art, indoor green space will accommodate soccer pitches and a multitude of other sports such as football, ultimate, baseball, wrestling, and track and field. It will also accommodate an expanded intramural sports program for UWinnipeg students, offer mutli-purpose rooms for cultural and community events and provide a new indoor parkade accommodating approximately 200 vehicles.

Health, Wellness and Healing Centre inside renovated Duckworth Centre

The new RecPlex will be connected via skybridge to UWinnipeg’s existing Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre and Duckworth Centre, which is undergoing renovations to accommodate UWinnipeg’s new Faculty of Kinesiology, academic initiatives and a new Health, Wellness and Healing Centre. Health services will be open to students and inner-city residents and will include a clinic offering primary health care, athletic therapy we well as a pharmacy. A Lifespan Physical Activity and Health Research Centre, pending approval by the University’s Senate, will be the umbrella under which new academic and research programs will grow including the Head’s Up Concussion Institute, the Institute for Inner-City Youth Sport Development, as well as diabetes and nutrition awareness and education.
Dr. Joel Kettner, former Chief Public Health Officer of Manitoba, will also add his breadth of experience in public health to help develop programming in the new facility, with a focus on illness and injury prevention, wellness promotion and health care for students and youth. Further details about a Healthy Campus Initiative, and the Health, Wellness and Healing Centre will be communicated in the coming months.


The new UNITED Health & RecPlex will allow for an expansion of teaching and research offerings within UWinnipeg’s new Faculty of Kinesiology, which came into effect July 1, 2012. The new facility also allows for community programs with student practicums, and part-time employment opportunities for students.

“UWinnipeg and its Faculty of Kinesiology are well placed geographically and academically, to make a difference for our University students and inner-city sport programs,” said Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology. A primary goal of the Faculty of Kinesiology is to create ongoing opportunities for meaningful community engagement.


PCL Construction, in partnership with Inner City Renovations, is committed to employing inner-city residents on the project. As a social enterprise and general contractor, Inner City Renovations provides employment opportunities for inner-city, low income residents.

The Alumni Garden on Spence Street will be rededicated on campus in the coming weeks. The University, in conjunction with its Campus Sustainability Office, Number TEN Architectural Group and local company Wood Anchor, is implementing a Tree Salvage, Reuse and Recycling Plan with the goal of keeping or recycling back onto campus every tree possible for reuse as lumber, furniture and art. Four large elm trees will remain in place. Four trees will be relocated to other locations on campus including potential replanting along the newly re-landscaped Richardson Green Corridor (a walkway which links the main campus to the Furby-Langside campus.) Other elm, ash, spruce and maple marked for reuse are cut into lengths and stored at Wood Anchor to be used during the construction phase of the new RecPlex. The repurposed lumber will form benches in change rooms, rough cut logs for ceremonial healing spaces, reception desktops and floor planks, among other things.

The pedestrian-friendly Spence Street Mall will also be extended further south by approximately 60 meters, increasing green space for students and the neighbourhood.

As with other new construction on campus, UWinnipeg is committed to achieving minimum LEED Silver status and is reusing and recycling all salvageable materials during the demolition and construction process.

To date, UWinnipeg has obtained Silver LEED status from the Canada Green Building Council for two new buildings: McFeetors Hall: Great-West Life Student Residence and The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association Daycare Centre.

The Duckworth Centre renovations begin this fall 2012 for completion in spring 2013. The RecPlex construction begins fall 2012 for completion in spring 2014.

Note: a special thank you to our partners who are developing this health and wellness hub: The University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation is the developer of the project; headed by UWCRC Managing Director Sherman Kreiner; the architect is Number Ten Architectural Group; the project manager is Re Solve Group Inc.; construction is by PCL Construction Canada Inc.; tree salvaging and recycling is by Wood Anchor.

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Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7135, E: