July 25th, 2024

Coaldale officially opens new recreation centre

By Herald on July 4, 2024.

Mayor Jack Van Rijn, along with former mayor Kim Craig, MLA Grant Hunter and other officials and dignitaries, cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Shift Community Recreation Centre on Wednesday in Coaldale. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Fitness has made a shift into a new gear with the grand opening in Coaldale of the Shift Community Recreation Centre.

A grand opening of the facility on the western edge of Coaldale was staged on a cloudy Wednesday but sprinkles of rain couldn’t dampen the celebration.

Coaldale mayor Jack Van Rijn, Taber-Warner MLA and Parliamentary Secretary for Agrifood Development and Palliser School Division superintendent Dave Driscoll were among dignitaries who spoke to a crowd outside the facility’s front doors on the opening day of the Southern Alberta Summer Games.

Also sitting on the bleachers with Van Rijn, Hunter and Driscoll were members of Coaldale’s council and representatives from other municipalities including Claresholm, Vulcan County and Lethbridge, which was represented by mayor Blaine Hyggen along with councillors Belinda Crowson and John Middleton-Hope. Lethbridge MP Rachael Thomas was scheduled to attend the opening ceremonies of the summer games early in the evening.

The facility, which is attached to a new Palliser School Division school that will serve Grades 7-12, slated to open in September, 2025, was a collaborative effort involving the town of Coaldale and the school division.

It had a soft opening for the public in late June for Wednesday’s official event.

The building is named for Shift Real Estate which secured naming rights to it.

The two-story multi-use facility is a bright and airy space that can accommodate a range of sports and community uses.

The main floor has among its amenities a squash court, courts for basketball volleyball and badminton and a field for soccer and lacrosse.  

The second floor has a community walking running track as well as a workout centre.

Also in the facility is a child care centre that will be operated by the organization called BGC Foothills Clubs, formerly known as Boys and Girls Clubs of the Foothills, which will also provide as after-school programming and an indoor play structure. There is also an outdoor play area.

A wall separates the facility from the new school, that like the Shift Centre is being constructed by Ward Bros. of Lethbridge.

Van Rijn thanked previous council for their contributions and paving the way to what he called a remarkable achievement. Two of them, former mayor Kim Craig and former councillor Doreen Lloyd, were on hand for the event.

“Today we celebrate not only the accumulation of years of planning and hard work but also the beginning of a new chapter for our community,” said Van Rijn.

“The Shift Community Recreation Centre is a testament to our shared vision for a healthier, more vibrant Coaldale and provides much needed space for physical activities of all kinds and for individuals of all ages,” he said, while listing off the facility’s amenities.

The centre “caters to a wide range of users and community groups. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, this centre has something for everyone and will serve as a hub for fitness and wellness for decades to come,” he said.

Van Rijn added it’s designated to be a community gathering space that will host a variety of programs from youth sports leagues to seniors fitness classes, “fostering connections and friendships among Coaldale and area residents,” he added.

By attracting visitors from neighbouring communities and areas, the facility will enhance the quality of life in Coaldale and stimulate economic growth, the mayor added.

“This centre will be a draw for families considering Coaldale as their new home, further enriching our community with new faces and new opportunities,” he added.

Hunter said while four walls make a house, what makes a home is the people and love inside and what will make the Shift centre special is the athletes and those who come, laugh and share moments together.

“This is what this building is going to be for Coaldale,” he said, adding he was excited when he heard it would be coupled with the new school and “the students at the school would be able to have this opportunity to be able to share that community centre.”

He congratulated everyone who had the vision to see the importance of having community centres work together with school boards.

He thanked the government of Alberta for seeing the value in the project and those who played a role in bringing it to fruition.

Driscoll congratulated the town, calling the Shift Centre “an amazing building. We have such opportunities for our young people in this community, not only because of this building but because of the people in this community. You stand up for your youth, you stand up for the people and that is an awesome thing for us to experience as educators,’ said Driscoll.

Work is still being done on the school, he added, with the division looking forward to welcoming students and staff to the building and “the many years that we have with the Town of Coaldale in ensuring that our students and our youth in this community have amazing facilities and amazing educational opportunities,” Driscoll added.

Representatives from the architects FWBA Architects and Ward Brothers also spoke before the ribbon was cut.

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