There was free public skating at the Minto Recreation Complex – Barrhaven's official opening on Nov. 29. Photo: Dan Plouffe
By Dan Plouffe
The main lobby of the new Minto Recreation Complex - Barrhaven was packed to the brims for the Nov. 29 official opening of the new $54 million sports facility at the corner of Cambrian and Greenbank in south Barrhaven.
The area’s councillor tried to herd the crowd in front of the podium setup for dignitaries’ remarks, but it was to no avail.
“That just shows the enthusiasm,” smiles Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder. “It made it that much more special. It showed how eager people really were.”
Although a number of components weren’t fully ready to host regular programming just yet, community members flocked in nonetheless to get a sneak peak of the centre that features two NHL-size ice pads, a 6-lane, 25-metre pool, a high school-size gymnasium and upper-level walking track.
Attendees also visited booths setup by many local sports organizations that will use the facilities – from soccer and baseball clubs to BMX and pickleball.
“I’m thrilled. I think the attendance has been beyond what I could even imagine. I’ve only seen smiles on people’s faces no matter what their age is,” Harder adds. “People are blown away by what we’re offering here, and the look of it as well. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Harder expects the energy to build even further come next spring once soccer and football get going on the outdoor field, which was upgraded to a CFL-size artificial playing surface thanks to the financial contributions made by Minto to secure the facility’s naming rights.
“I’m proud that we have the relationship with Roger Greenberg and that he supported this place,” Harder highlights. “They are huge builders here in Barrhaven, and they have been for decades.”
Harder says that the possibility of adding an inflatable dome over the pitch for wintertime use is out of the question. Past potential dome projects have stalled locally out of concern that they’ll be an eyesore.
“I would not do that. It would not be appropriate,” Harder indicates, noting she turned down a request from John McCrae Secondary School to explore a similar idea on their grounds. “This is a high-scale community and the houses back right onto the property. That wouldn’t be fair.”
Without many other amenities in the Half Moon Bay community, leaders decided that the Minto complex should have a cafe instead of a canteen.
“It’s OK in an arena, but this is not an arena, it’s a people place,” Harder explains. “It’s such a busy, busy community.”
Despite the enthusiasm for the new facility and the somewhat overburdened Walter Baker complex at the north end of Barrhaven, the Minto complex in fact arrives several years earlier than originally planned.
The City of Ottawa used to wait until they’d banked all the required money from development charges before constructing recreation centres, but Harder and former planning committee chair Peter Hume successfully argued that they should get started earlier, once they had collected half of the required cost.
Since those efforts began four years ago, Harder details, they’ve received the remaining development fees for the facility.
“How many other communities have two facilities of this size in them?” Harder underlines, noting that Walter Baker will also receive $500,000 worth of refurbishments in the near future. “It’s fantastic.”
Minto becomes 1st facility to adopt True Sport principles before opening
Coinciding with RBC Sports Day in Canada, the Minto Recreation Complex celebrated a national distinction by becoming the first facility to adopt the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport’s True Sport Principles
before it opened its doors.
“We thought it was an easy way to bring a good set of values into the centre,” notes the City of Ottawa’s Janis Phillips, the Minto Recreation Complex – Barrhaven portfolio manager. “It’s about good sport, and good sport builds good communities.”
Attendees were asked to sign a declaration to adopt seven fundamentals in their approach to sport: Go For It, Play Fair, Respect Others, Keep It Fun, Stay Healthy, Include Everyone and Give Back.
“Our staff all have to understand what the values mean to the community, to the participants, and to themselves,” Phillips adds. “In all our programs, they’ll sit down and talk to the children about it.”
On top of shaping the philosophies in planning and programming, True Sport also has a physical presence with its logo present in many areas of the facility, including the centre-court basketball circle of the gym.
“You play sport because it’s fun,” Phillips underlines. “Some people will be really, really good and maybe some will move on, but we’re hoping people will just continue to do it throughout their lives.”