South Fish Creek Recreation Complex

Game On

If there is one thing Canadians cannot get enough of, it’s our frozen passion of ice hockey. The popularity of the sport is evidenced across Canada in communities where the availability of local ice time for minor leagues is often difficult to find.

Introducing the South Fish Creek Recreation Association, a not-for-profit organization made up of a number of community and sports association that was founded in 1997 with the objective to satisfy a need in creating more recreational facilities in the Calgary area.

With the backing of community associations and the support of a variety of hockey groups, a new facility—the South Fish Creek Recreation Complex—opened in 2001, offering two new ice pads, among a variety of other attractive amenities.

Originally, the plan was to construct a quad-complex arena, but capital constraints forced the construction to scale back to a twin arena until a later date with the idea that, in the future, the facility would be expanded, adding two additional ice pads to the arena.

Project construction

The expansion of South Fish Creek facility was afforded by the City of Calgary ($14 million), the Federal government ($1 million), the Province of Alberta ($3.26 million), in addition to community fundraising. Funding was raised to maintain a lifecycle fund and to operate the facility.

Shortly after the original construction, the South Fish Creek Recreation Association concluded that it was not fully meeting the needs of its community. It was at this time that a major push began for the remaining expansion, which would double the number of rinks to become southern Alberta’s first quad ice complex.

“Last year, all the project funding came together and, today, the target for the expansion opening is November,” said Simone Mersereau, President of the South Fish Creek Recreation Association.

Today, the facility offers a variety of recreational and community-based activities all under one roof.

“We’re adding in the two new ice pads, as well as some multi-purpose rooms for programming, and some space for lease rental,” Mersereau said. “We’re also adding a concession area, office space, and a new front entry way so that the entrance comes in between all four arenas.”

In the makeup of the four-pad arena, all four rinks are the same size, with one offering less seating, to be utilized more frequently as a practice facility and for smaller events.

“We have to provide no less than 50 per cent of the ice time to the Minor Hockey Association for their practices and games,” Mersereau said, “and we actually provide closer to 80 per cent.”

Community hub

The South Fish Creek Recreation Association offers more than just hockey as well, as it also offers recreational programming away from the rink, through its multi-purpose rooms and gymnasium, including basketball, soccer, and lacrosse, all the way to cooking classes and Spanish classes. It would be an understatement to say that a variety of programs are offered at the South Fish Creek Recreation Complex.

“We provide a lot of different things in the community portion of the facility,” Mersereau summarized, “from recreational programming, to the gym, to the ice.”

The gymnasium, a 6,000 square foot offering, opened in 2002 and sees plenty of programming.

Mersereau added, “The facility as a whole is unique in that it is an alliance/partnership between the Catholic Board of Education, the Calgary Public Library, the South Fish Creek Recreation Association, and the City of Calgary. The South Fish Creek Recreation Association operates the community portion of the facility on behalf of the City of Calgary.”

According to the South Fish Creek Recreation Association website, the facility represents a unique and exciting project that brings together key community organizations in the development of recreation and education in the community. Reads the website, “Located in the Shawnessy Town Centre, the complex primarily serves Calgarians residing south of Fish Creek Provincial Park.”

Facility sustainability

With the environment in mind, the South Fish Creek Recreation Association is expanding its facility hoping to obtain LEED Standard recognition. As such, a key part of this initiative is sustainability.

“We want to maintain the appropriate lifecycle funding for the facility,” Mersereau concluded. “As well, one other area we are currently working on is getting more parking for the facility. We feel there is more parking needed because of the fact that most of our users are young, carrying hockey bags.

“Our biggest need, as a Board, is that we need to stay sustainable, while still providing for the community needs, and that is a balancing act. Our focus is on family, youth, and children, but we also have to balance that out by making sure we can maintain our operations and our lifecycle.”