Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus (Laurier Brantford) and the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford developed a memorandum of understanding to create a recreation, athletics and wellness centre, with a proposed location on land currently owned by the City of Brantford.
The jointly-operated facility would replace the temporary YMCA facility and modest Laurier Brantford facilities to serve the growing recreation demands of students and community members of Laurier Brantford, Nipissing University, Mohawk College and Six Nations.
The Laurier Brantford campus, in its 12th year of operation, is relatively new to Brantford. Student enrolment has grown from 39 in its first year to 2,200 in its 11th year (including the joint-program Nipissing University students). It is anticipated that by year 15 the full-time enrolment equivalent would be almost 4,500, and a long-range projection of 15,000.
The YMCA has a 150-year history in Brantford and currently operates a “dryland-only” facility in an old factory building near the campus and the downtown core. The original full-service facility operated by the YMCA was converted to housing. The dryland-only facility offers fitness equipment and a dance studio, a mini-gym, a child programming space and support spaces. Membership has declined in the temporary facility ostensibly due to the absence of an aquatic component to the facility.
The target membership of the new facility is approximately 7,000 members, equivalent in scale to the Les Chater YMCA in south Hamilton, which could generate up to 500,000 additional annual user visits. In addition to its typical programming, the YMCA is considering the city’s request to operate a Youth Centre in the complex.
Through their partnering strategy, Laurier Brantford and the YMCA have developed an opportunity to create a facility with a range of programming that far exceeds what either organization could have provided independently. The resulting amenity will enhance both the university and Brantford communities.
The project will also reflect Aboriginal culture and the programming goals of the Six Nations partners. Potential opportunities include:
- A tentative Aboriginal programming support space of approximately 600 sq. ft. (56 sq. m).
- The importance of Aboriginal culture recognized through Aboriginal artists’ work, selected for display through a community-based, juried public art selection process.
- The integration of landscape ideas reflecting Aboriginal culture into the facility’s proposed green roof strategy, to be developed in consultation with Six Nations.
Representatives of Six Nations will be invited to identify other ways for the project to reflect the importance of Aboriginal culture in Brantford and Brant County, and the priorities of the Six Nations partners.
Over the last 11 years, Laurier Brantford has emerged as a model for the successful economic and social integration of a university campus into the fabric of a city centre. The Athletic Complex has a significant role to play in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Brantford. As the “centre of active living,” the facility serves as a destination which draws users from both the university and community population. This unique characteristic places it in the context of contemporary hybrid civic architecture.
The facility’s significance to the community is further reinforced by its proposed location on the south edge of Harmony Square and the integration of a fully accessible green roof landscape connection from Harmony Square and Colborne Street to Water Street.
Laurier Brantford- YMCA In the News
Grant for athletics centre - Brant News - June 5, 2010
Laurier, YMCA get athletics centre funding - The Brantford Expositor - June 5, 2010
Rec centre plans unveiled - Brant News - March 8, 2011
Laurier/Y pitch plan for $50M complex - The Brantford Expositor - March 8, 2011
Minister will bring "smiles" today: MPP - The Brantford Expositor - July 12, 2011
$16.6M boost for Y-Laurier complex - The Brantford Expositor - July 13, 2011
$16.6 million for new YMCA - Brant News - July 13, 2011
City approves YMCA-Laurier plan in principle - Brant News - February 7, 2012
City to pay $5.8 million for Y-Laurier project - The Brantford Expositor - February 7, 2012
Laurier Brantford YMCA Athletics Complex wins Progressive Architecture (p/a) award from Architect Magazine - February 16, 2012
Y-Laurier Complex wins design honour - The Brantford Expositor, February 18, 2012
Governments support Laurier Brantford YMCA Athletics and Recreation Complex - Friday, September 7, 2012
Y-Laurier centre gets $16.7M boost from feds - The Brantford Expositor, Friday, September 7, 2012
$16.7M for Laurier Brantford YMCA facility - Brant News, Friday, September 7, 2012