Three partners working together to provide variety of services

Northeast Calgary will feel a little healthier when the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness opens its doors to Calgarians in January.

The 225,000-square-foot recreational complex has been under construction for the past two years with a budget of $120 million.

“The community centre dream was much more than your standard recreational facility,” said Devan Seamans, manager of business development for the North East Centre of Community Society.

The society raised part of the funds for the facility and consists of many volunteers from the three main communities of Saddleridge, Taradale, and Martindale. The City of Calgary, the Calgary Public Library, YMCA Calgary and Genesis Land Development are other sponsors of the project.

The Genesis Centre, while acting as its own recreation and community facility, will also be home to new branches of the YMCA and the Calgary Public Library. The YMCA will be called the Saddletowne YMCA, and the Calgary Public Library will also go under the Saddletowne name, yet both will be contained within the main building.

Also within the main facility will be common areas for community events and functions, including an outdoor space for theatrical productions in the summer and ice-skating in the wintertime.

The Genesis Centre component contains two indoor field houses, an oversized gymnasium, multipurpose room, three meeting rooms, and a community kitchen. These facilities will be available to the public on a drop-in basis or with a monthly pass that will cost $19. The multipurpose room and field house will provide rental space.

Lots of options for the community

Natashia Haynes, a mother and area resident, has lived in the community of Falconridge for six years. She said her family would definitely use the new facility, especially because it is so close to where she lives and would give her family options for activities. She has sons who like soccer, so the field house would pique their interest.

An artistic rendering of the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness promises a sprawling facility with services fit for a multitude of communities and their residents.
Photo courtesy of: Genesis Centre of Community Wellness
She said the facility would be good for the community because “it will get the community interacting and it will keep the kids occupied.”

Haynes also thinks that the monthly pass price of $19 is a good value, and will be fairly affordable for people in the community.

For those involved in the creation of the Genesis Centre, the facility is a partnership of organizations coming together for the community.

“We will be working together, because we don’t want to duplicate services,” said Brigitte Edwards, general manager of the Saddletowne YMCA at the Genesis Centre. “We will be under one roof, serving the same community, providing programs and services that will serve the wellness needs of the community.”

She said that the Saddletowne YMCA will have all of the typical YMCA programming that focuses on health and wellness. There will be a climbing space, aquatic components, gym space, cardio, and a running track. There are also day camp and childcare programs available.

“We are following the YMCA principles of programming,” Edwards said.

The North East Centre for Community Society’s components within the facility will focus directly on the needs of the community.

“We will try to focus on the cultural side of things,” said Seamans, the society’s president.

The facility has many components, but there are no hockey arenas. Seamans said this is based on the demographics of the area and the demand for soccer space in the city.

The society hopes to develop after-school programs for the kids in the area. Sports camp registration for the Christmas holidays and January has already started.

Along with all of the health and athletic services provided, the North East Centre for Community Society component also houses a human services department, which has offices in the facility. They provide services for families and new people coming into the community.

“Its purpose is to provide members of the community (an opportunity) to access services that are important to them,” said Kate Hartnett, manager of community and human services at the Genesis Centre, in an email.

“The area will have social agencies working to provide services to the community, as well as a common area (for) residents to meet, or work on resident-led projects.”

Opening soon

The soft opening for the facility is set for the beginning of January, meaning portions of the building will be open and begin offering services to the community prior to the official grand opening on Jan. 14, when the entire facility will be unveiled and open for business.

The Genesis Centre’s nearly 10,000-square-foot gymnasium can be converted to one full-size basketball court, two volleyball courts, five badminton courts or two small basketball courts.
Photo by: Devan Seamans
Seamans said the facility is “geared towards 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. mothers and children or stay-at-home dads, seniors in the area and, because of the demographic, seniors will be in the same home as the family. Programs depend on what our niche is with the YMCA.”

He also said that the North East Centre for Community Society will be the “bookings side of the facility. Cultural events will be a major component of what we do in the long term.”

Edwards of the Saddletowne YMCA said there has been a lot of great feedback from the community leading up to the opening.

“The community has been very supportive and people are very excited to have a recreation centre that has a variety of options for their health and wellness needs,” she said.

sgalley@cjournal.ca

Update: The original version of this article, posted Dec. 13, mentioned Natashia Haynes lived in the community of Saddleridge. She actually lives in Falconridge. We have made the correction and apologize for the error.