Canada Games Park on Track

Christopher Séguin

Unrecognizable from the days when it was just a parking lot at Brock University, Canada Games Park (CGP) was rapidly transformed into the state-of-the-art sport and recreation complex that was promised. Being built as a result of Niagara hosting the 2022 Canada Summer Games, this new facility is well on its way to being completed — an impressive feat given the challenges that this project has faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite material shortages and other obstacles created by these unprecedented times that we’re living in, the team working on CGP have impressively managed to stay on schedule set to be fully completed by the end of January 2022.

“COVID-19 has certainly been an unexpected challenge and a hurdle we’ve all had to deal with,” said Emilio Raimondo, President of Raimondo + Associates, a Niagara Falls architecture and interior design firm who have teamed up with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) to design CGP and the Henley Rowing Centre. “However, with the experience and know-how of Aquicon, the general contractor on the project, they’ve been able to maintain and make up ground, and to all of our surprises, they’ve certainly been able to meet the original schedule.”

Canada Games Park features two main areas. The first is the big building that you always see in photos called the Sport and Ability Centre. This 200,000 square foot facility will consist of a twin ice-pad arena, a health and well-being centre, a 200m indoor track, sport offices, and a multipurpose fieldhouse that will feature a parasport gymnasium.

“There’s no appreciation of the scale of this facility through any photo or video,” explained Eric D’Uva, a Project Engineer at Urban & Environmental Management, a Niagara Falls consulting firm that serves as the project managers for CGP. “The sheer size of it, it just can’t be captured through a photo. I mean, yes, it looks big in photos, but actually going in there and walking from one space to the other, and realizing just how big this building actually is, is always impressive.”

Meanwhile, outside of that facility will be that second main space, which is where you’ll find the six competition beach volleyball courts, a cycling centre, and a track-and-field facility that includes areas for all disciplines (jumps and throws) and a full 400m track.

In terms of recent developments at CGP, the majority of them will likely have gone unnoticed by outside observers, given that the building is now enclosed and much of the progress is taking place inside the facility.

“The final product is what the end-user and patrons see in any environment,” is Raimondo + Associates’ perspective on interior design. “It creates the ‘feel’ that in turn is a first impression that affects the type of facility persons interact in. Materials and finishes are selected with more than the final vision in mind. We have a vast array of project experience which gives us firsthand knowledge and understanding of how specific materials stand up to use, abuse and time.”

Additionally, CGP has been designed to be fully accessible with elevators, ramps, door operators and/or sliding doors at the main entrances of the Sports and Ability Centre, and the Park will possess double the number of required barrier-free parking spaces. At the same time, inside the building, a para-sport gymnasium will be housed within the multipurpose field house to accommodate para-sports, and address the need for more accessible sports facilities in Niagara and its relatively large para-population. Something that isn’t lost on all those working on this unique project.

“It’s going to be not just a ‘national-class facility’, but a world-class facility where they can host these major events and have a draw to bring people into the [Niagara] Region and into the community,” added D’Uva. “I mean I don’t feel like it’s going to wear off. It’s not going to lose its ‘wow’ factor, just when it is finished. It’s going to always be one of those spaces that when I’m driving by with a family member or friend, I can say ‘yeah, I was a part of that, we helped build this. It’ll always be something that I’ll be proud to say ‘look at what we were able to do.’”

Christopher Séguin is the Manager of Media and Communications for the Niagara 2022 Canada Games.

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