August 6-21, 2022
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Canada Games Park Under Construction

5/20/21

by: Christopher S├ęguin

Canada Games Park on track to be completed by end of 2021

Blink and you might have missed it. 

In less than 18 months, what was once a vision has now quickly taken shape over at the corner of Sir Isaac Brock Way and Merrittville Highway in Thorold, Ont. 

Unrecognizable from the days when it was just a parking lot at Brock University, Canada Games Park (CGP) is rapidly transforming into the state-of-the-art sport and recreation complex that was promised. Being built as a result of Niagara hosting the 2022 Canada Summer Games, this new facility is well on its way to being completed by the end of this calendar year — an impressive feat given the challenges that this project has faced over the last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was roughly twelve months ago that the site was forced to close down for about four weeks due to a mandated government shutdown. Since then, despite material shortages and other obstacles created by these unprecedented times that we’re living in, the team working on CGP have impressively managed to stay on schedule with substantial completion expected by Fall 2021, and construction activities set to be fully completed by the end of January 2022.

“COVID-19 has certainly been an unexpected challenge and a hurdle we've all had to deal with,” said Emilio Raimondo, President of Raimondo + Associates, a Niagara Falls architecture and interior design firm who have teamed up with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) to design CGP and the Henley Rowing Centre. “However, with the experience and know-how of Aquicon, the general contractor on the project, they've been able to maintain and make up ground, and to all of our surprises, they’ve certainly been able to meet the original schedule.”

“With the shutdown, it was definitely a setback for four weeks where you're planning on hitting these targets, but the team came together and reset,” added Darren Peters, President of Peters Excavating, a multi-disciplined heavy civil contractor that is part of a team of companies called Peters Construction Group, who are also working on the CGP project. “We kind of came up with a new scope, and implemented it and worked with the different regulations that COVID has brought on, and we still have been able to maintain the schedule.”

Rendering of Canada Games Park
A rendering of what Canada Games Park will look like once it is substantially completed by Fall 2021. The sport and recreation complex, which is being built at the corner of Sir Isaac Brock Way and Merrittville Highway, will feature two main areas — there’s the main structure called the Sport and Ability Centre, and outside of that will be six competition beach volleyball courts and a 400-metre track-and-field facility.

In the early goings of this project, starting in December 2019 when the shovels went into the ground, a lot of the heavy lifting being done on site was accomplished by Darren’s team at Peters Construction Group. They focused on the storm sewers, sanitary sewers, watermains, the parking lot, and built all of the major earthworks at CGP, while also completing the excavating for the sub trades (such as plumbers and electricians), digging the foundations, backfilling, and doing the aggregate hauling for the entire project site.

All of this was in addition to the work they completed at the south entrance of the facility, along Schmon Parkway, where Peters Construction Group alone upgraded the sanitary and water lines — a necessary improvement that will allow CGP to be fully operational once it opens and begins to see community use in 2022.

“It's just very exciting to be a part of a project like Canada Games Park,” exclaimed Peters, whose company is based out of Stevensville, Welland, and St. Catharines, Ont. “We've worked on a lot of interesting projects, but nothing as high-profile. It's kind of a flagship project, and to be a part of it, having our name associated with it, is pretty special.

“The whole facility is amazing. You see the sports field. I haven't been inside the arena, as of late, but just the detail of the architecture of the entire park is just so impressive.”

“There's no appreciation of the scale of this facility through any photo or video,” explained Eric D’Uva, a Project Engineer at Urban & Environmental Management, a Niagara Falls consulting firm that serves as the project managers for CGP. “The sheer size of it, it just can't be captured through a photo. I mean, yes, it looks big in photos, but actually going in there and walking from one space to the other, and realizing just how big this building actually is, is always impressive.”

A recent photo of the outdoor track-and-field facility featured at Canada Games Park that will feature a full 400m track and areas for all disciplines (jumps and throws). The outdoor track is designed and built to Olympic standards, and has already been certified to be level within three millimetres from end to end (Credit: Urban & Environmental Management - May 7, 2021).

Canada Games Park features two main areas. The first is the big building that you always see in photos called the Sport and Ability Centre. This 200,000 square foot facility will consist of a twin ice-pad arena, a health and well-being centre, a 200m indoor track, sport offices, and a multipurpose fieldhouse that will feature a parasport gymnasium. 

Meanwhile, outside of that facility will be that second main space, which is where you’ll find the six competition beach volleyball courts, a cycling centre, and a track-and-field facility that includes areas for all disciplines (jumps and throws) and a full 400m track.

The outdoor track is an amazing facility that's going to be a part of CGP,” claimed D’Uva, who was brought on board the project when construction started in December of 2019. “From the engineering side, that entire track, it's certified to be level within three millimetres from end to end, which is just boggling, how you can take a field, compact it, build your layers up, pave the asphalt and lay down the rubberized running surface, and the most that it could be out before being certified was three millimetres. As the outdoor track was already certified, that means it was better than that, which is crazy.”

The track is an absolute marvel. It's designed and built to Olympic standards,” added Raimondo. “It’s just amazing what has been provided, and how these facilities can be used in the future.”

In terms of recent developments at CGP, the majority of them will likely have gone unnoticed by outside observers, given that the building is now enclosed and much of the progress is taking place inside the facility. However, as has come to be expected from the project’s general contractor Aquicon, they have continued to make major strides from week to week, and most recently, they completed the installation of glass in windows, doors, or other fixed openings (known as glazing), they’ve installed nearly all the internal drywall and poured down the rink slabs over the past two weeks.

One of the two rinks contained within Canada Games Park shortly after the rink slabs were poured down a week ago. This twin ice-pad arena will include two NHL-sized pads — one arena will have seating for about 1200 spectators and room for media workspaces, while the other pad will have approximately 300 seats (Credit: Urban & Environmental Management - May 14, 2021).

“It's not one particular component, it's really the entire building and facility that really stands out,” said Raimondo, who also grew up in Niagara. “This building, by its very nature and appearance, is very unique.”

“[CGP is] not just a facility, it’s also an architect's vision,” declared D’Uva about CGP’s design, which was developed by the architectural team of MJMA and Raimondo + Associates. “They were able to add some innovative features to the design, making it a visually striking building, not just a functional one.”

CGP’s design also places significant importance on both accessibility and environmental sustainability. Take the roof of the building, for example. Not only do the overhangs extending from it reduce the solar gains and the associated cooling load (meaning they help lower the amount of energy required to cool down the facility from heat generated by sunlight), but the folded roofscape across the top of the building will also allow for the deployment of a green roof. This sustainable feature will provide shade, remove heat from the air and lower the temperature of the roof’s surface and surrounding air — all in an effort to reduce the heat island of the building.

It’s attributes like these ones that help explain why CGP is set to be 35% more efficient and generate 45% less greenhouse gas emissions than a standard building in Canada.

Additionally, as mentioned, CGP has been designed to be fully accessible with elevators, ramps, door operators and/or sliding doors at the main entrances of the Sports and Ability Centre, and the Park will possess double the number of required barrier-free parking spaces. At the same time, inside the building, a parasport gymnasium will be housed within the multipurpose fieldhouse to accommodate parasports, and address the need for more accessible sport facilities in Niagara and its relatively large para-population.

A look inside at the multipurpose fieldhouse at Canada Games Park and the 200m indoor track that sits above it. In addition to the suspended indoor track, the multipurpose fieldhouse will feature seating for approximately 700 spectators and four full-sized gymnasiums including a parasport gymnasium that has been designed to accommodate several parasports (Credit: Urban & Environmental Management - April 27, 2021).

However, prior to the community collecting significant mileage at CGP, Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games will take it out for its first real test drive next summer, which will be an event that the team who has worked tirelessly to bring this project to life is eager to experience.

“Seeing it constructed since day one, knowing all of the hurdles and challenges that we've faced, it's going to be very rewarding to see those athletes performing on what was a dirt field, call it two years ago, and know that we met those schedule challenges and all the construction issues that we faced,” exclaimed D’Uva, who is a Niagara College and Lakehead University alumnus.

“It’s very exciting for the Niagara Region to be able to host the Canada Games. I've never been a part of a Canada Games, anywhere in the country. So I'm just excited to see what that all entails when it finally happens in 2022,” said Peters, who has called Niagara home for the last couple of decades and also is a graduate of Niagara College. “But this facility will be such an asset for us for years to come because even after the Canada Games comes and goes, we still have this state-of-the-art facility for the community to use for many years, and for other functions to come.”

Specifically, from August 6-21, 2022, five of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games’ sports (athletics, box lacrosse, wrestling, beach volleyball, and indoor volleyball) will be held at CGP, including the first women’s lacrosse competition to ever be held at a Canada Games. But, as Peters highlights, it’s hard to not get excited at the thought of what the future holds for this state-of-the-art facility and the Niagara community.

A photo of the staircase that takes you up to the second floor of the Sport and Ability Centre at Canada Games Park. The Sport and Ability Centre will consist of a twin ice-pad arena, a health and well-being centre, a 200m indoor track, sport offices, and a multipurpose fieldhouse that will house a parasport gymnasium (Credit: Urban & Environmental Management - April 27, 2021).

Made possible thanks to funding by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the Project's Consortium Partners including the Niagara Region, City of Thorold, City of St. Catharines, and Brock University, CGP is going to change the landscape of available sport and recreation facilities for Niagara residents of all ages and abilities to enjoy for years to come. It will also further strengthen this region’s sport system by creating and improving access to critical amenities and programs — ultimately facilitating the creation of year-round hubs of community activity.

Something that isn’t lost on all those working on this unique project.

“In my perspective, Niagara is growing by gravity,” claimed Raimondo. “People are finally realizing the benefits Niagara has to offer, and they're gravitating here because of that, and I think the Canada Games, Canada Games Park, and the opportunities it will certainly present in the future, are even more reasons for people to gravitate towards Niagara.

“I mean to have a facility of this type in Niagara is absolutely extraordinary. You know, this facility is state of the art, and will no doubt attract our community, our university, and athletes from around the world to use these facilities and visit Niagara and experience its greatness.”

“It's going to be not just a ‘national-class facility’, but a world-class facility where they can host these major events and have a draw to bring people into the [Niagara] Region and into the community,” added D’Uva. “I mean I don't feel like it's going to wear off. It's not going to lose its ‘wow’ factor, just when it is finished. It's going to always be one of those spaces that when I'm driving by with a family member or friend, I can say ‘yeah, I was a part of that, we helped build this. It'll always be something that I'll be proud to say ‘look at what we were able to do.’”

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