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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

After much anticipation, the new Laurier Brantford YMCA opened its doors on Sept. 14, 2018. This innovative partnership between Wilfrid Laurier University and the YMCA of Hamilton | Burlington | Brantford expands athletic opportunities for students at our Brantford campus, supports campus growth, enhances broader community access to health, wellness and social supports, and further bolsters the revitalization of the city’s core.

The new Laurier Brantford YMCA complex is located on the south side of Colborne Street, between Grand River Hall and the municipal parking walkway, opposite Harmony Square. The facility’s distinctive design earned architectural firm CannonDesign an award of excellence from Architect Magazine.

The 120,000-square-foot facility includes:

  • An aquatics centre with two tank pool for lane swimming, swim lessons, aquatic fitness and therapy, plus an on-deck hot tub for teaching, fitness, therapy and leisure.
  • Five inclusive member change rooms, which include: family/universal access, adult general male and female, and adult-only male and female change rooms, plus four team change rooms for Laurier Athletics and other special events.
  • A child-minding area.
  • A youth zone for recreational, social and leadership development programs.
  • A double gym designed for sports and competition with retractable stadium seating for 860 people, plus taping and first aid room for event athletic therapists.
  • A single gym for drop-in sports and larger programs.
  • A fitness centre with state-of-the-art stretching, small group training, cable machines and cardio equipment with Wi-Fi capabilities for fitness programs and access to apps.
  • Health intake consultation rooms for specialized community-based health care programs in partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences and Brant Community Healthcare System.
  • Three studios for a large variety of group fitness classes, including Cycle Fit and dance.
  • Multi-purpose spaces for social, educational and cultural programming.
  • A 3,498-square-foot strength area for strength equipment, pin loaded and free weights (2.5 to 100 lbs).
  • A student lounge for group work and socialization.

The facility serves residents of Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations, the postsecondary institutions in the community, including Laurier and Conestoga College, and other visitors.

Succeeding Together

Collaborative partnerships have been central to the success of Laurier’s Brantford campus. The new Laurier Brantford YMCA complex is no exception. This initiative is possible thanks to community input and funding support from many sources, including the City of Brantford, provincial and federal governments, Laurier’s Students’ Union, and private donors. An atrium wall in the Water St. entrance to the new Laurier Brantford YMCA recognizes major donors to the project.

The Laurier Brantford YMCA complex serves all members of the community, from student athletes to toddlers taking their first aquatic classes and adults participating in cardiac rehabilitation programs. Because of the YMCA’s policy of making its facilities available to all regardless of ability to pay, the new facility will be truly universally accessible. Laurier is excited by the prospect of introducing local youth and families to a university campus environment, and anticipate this partnership will result in improved social and health outcomes across the community.

Unearthing Brantford’s Past

The story of Brantford’s people and its past can be told with new insight thanks to the nearly 400,000 artifacts unearthed during the archaeological-discovery phase of the Laurier Brantford YMCA building project. These objects, some of which date as far back as 500 BCE, add a new and important dimension to this community initiative. They tell the story of the people who called this area home from the Late Woodland period to the 21st century. According to archeologists, the quantity and calibre of the artifacts found rank it as the most significant archeological discovery in Ontario since the construction of the Rogers Centre, formerly known as the SkyDome, in the 1980s. As a university, we’re thrilled to be part of such a compelling educational discovery.

Among the items unearthed at the site are:

  • Pottery shards from the Late Woodland peoples;
  • Relics from the early European settlers, including a delicate Davenport teacup; and
  • Several coins, including an Upper Canada sloop penny from the 1820s.

There has been a great deal of interest in these objects, and select artifacts have been displayed at several community events. Work is underway to determine how best to display the artifacts on an ongoing basis.

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