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Feds announce funding for renovations to Calgary’s WinSport day lodge

Click to play video: 'Sports advocates welcome Winsport lodge funding, improvements still needed'
Sports advocates welcome Winsport lodge funding, improvements still needed
`WATCH: Winsport has received $17.4-million dollars to help revamp its aging day lodge. A Calgary sports advocate says it's welcome news but adds much more needs to be done if Calgary wants to train high-caliber athletes, attract major events and revive its Olympic legacy and infrastructure. Lauren Pullen reports. – Aug 29, 2022

The government of Canada is investing more than $17.4 million into renovations at Canada Olympic Park’s (COP) WinSport day lodge.

According to an announcement on Monday morning, the money will be used to enhance visitor and guest experiences at the day lodge for the next 40 years.

The renovations include plans to enhance accessibility, improve internal circulation, expand the day lodge’s layout and optimize the building’s environmental footprint.

Read more: WinSport calling for significant boost in funding to update aging facilities

According to WinSport, the day lodge has not had a major renovation since 1987. The organization said it will continue to secure more funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $39 million to $43 million depending on the final design.

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“This was built for the ’88 Olympics and it was opened in ’87 as a media centre, so it was never really designed as a lodge,” Barry Heck, WinSport’s president and chief executive officer, told Global News.

“It will become more accessible, more inclusive… It’ll have a better flow and it’ll also be built to a net-zero standard. So it’s a tremendous advancement in the functionality of this important community facility.”

Read more: Renovations underway at Calgary’s WinSport despite funding uncertainty

The planned enhancements to the day lodge’s accessibility will also benefit many families, children and disabled athletes, Heck said.

The proposed improvements aim to remove barriers so disabled people can easily access the parking lot, day lodge and recreation facilities.

“It’ll make it a lot more user-friendly for disabled athletes to go right from the parking lot to snow. The stairs will come out and it’ll just be a world-leading, inclusive and accessible facility that allows a wider range of athletes to take part in the hills,” Heck said.

WinSport estimated that the project would take 18 months to complete.

Read more: WinSport launches adaptive wheelchair program

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Sports advocate and University of Calgary researcher Jason Rebeiro welcomed the news but said investments are needed to renovate and improve desperately-needed sports infrastructure.

“Renewing Calgary’s 1988 legacy infrastructure is vital if we want to continue to train the next generation of winter sports athletes and attract events that bring a positive economic and social benefit to the city,” Ribeiro said.

“The ski hill and sliding track at Winsport were directly named in the 2026 Hosting Plan as priorities for investment and would have resulted in improved hosting capacity for a wide variety of events.

“If we want to safely use these facilities in future for training and community use — they need investment.”

Read more: Canada Olympic Park ski jumps to be dismantled

Rebeiro said Calgary is losing a generation of athletes to places like Whistler, where facilities are updated and better maintained.

“For a city that has powered Canada’s Olympic movement, this should be deeply concerning,” he said.

WinSport is a community-based, non-profit organization that aims to help people discover the joy of physical activity and help athletes recognize their potential. The organization owns and operates Canada Olympic Park as well as Bill Warren Training Centre in Canmore.

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