Multisport Centre on track for spring opening
The Multisport Centre of Excellence has a new name, a new director of sport medicine and soon, a new building.
Construction on the project next to Burnaby Lake Sports Complex in the Central Valley is expected to be complete by January and ready for opening in the spring of 2013, it was announced Wednesday.
It will now be known as Fortius Sport & Health, Latin for "strong" or "stronger."
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said it was an apt name.
"The name is absolutely perfect because when you're developing something that is so strong, and you develop an organization like Fortius, it requires a struggle," he said. "And that is what it's really all about, it's about the struggle, the development of the strength to form something that becomes incredibly important. And no one knows better about the importance of the struggle than athletes do."
When complete, the $61-million centre will be the first fully-integrated facility in Canada to bring together expertise, programs and services focused on sport medicine, science and training. The 148,000-square-foot building will house world-class sport medicine and rehabilitation facilities, a strength and conditioning centre, gyms, labs, office space, an athlete's village and sport-related retail outlets.
But it's been a long time coming.
"This project has been one that has given us all in the City of Burnaby some grey hairs over the years as people drove by and saw the gradual development going on—and it was gradual," said Corrigan. "It took some time for this project to come to fruition."
The project stalled in 2008, only a few months after construction started, when donated shares of stock lost much of their value during the global economic downturn.
About a year ago, construction resumed when financing was secured in the community, including a $23-million donation by the centre's founder and chair, Scott Cousens, a Vancouver-based mining executive.
Fortius Sport & Health is made up of the Fortius Athlete Development Centre, a not-for-profit society, the Fortius Institute, an integrated team of sports medicine, science and training leaders, and its charitable arm, the Fortius Foundation.
Cousens said the centre's site at Kensington Avenue and Joe Sakic Way was chosen for Burnaby's central location, the city's culture of sport and active living, and Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, "which we believe is the the finest and most concentrated sports park in Canada."
While its most notable users will be professional and Olympic athletes, the focus will be on athletes at all levels.
"It's all about stronger athlete development programs and services, and it's all about stronger health outcomes for all of us, but most notably, for the next generation of young Canadians," Cousens said of the project, noting it comes from a "belief in the power of sport to transform lives."
The centre will focus on preventive and rehabilitative medicine using a "multidisciplinary holistic approach" where health care professionals with different types of expertise will be able to collaborate.
Dr. Rick Celebrini, co-founder and Fortius' newly-named director of sport medicine and science, called the centre "a dream come true."
He noted that he and fellow Fortius advisory board member Dr. Jack Taunton helped develop a similar collaborative, integrated model of health care to serve athletes during the 2010 Winter Olympics, despite the International Olympic Committee's skepticism that such a concept was possible.
"I think it was described in many different ways during that time, as sort of a utopia or a medical Disneyland for practitioners, and that's what we have here an opportunity to do," said Celebrini.
"We're on the cusp of something special here that will transcend the boundaries of Burnaby."
Former Vancouver Canuck Trevor Linden, a member of Fortius' athlete advisory board, said the centre will be invaluable in providing direction to young athletes.
"Where I grew up in Medicine Hat, it was basically, you blindly tried to do what you think is right without any direction, so to have these great minds collaborating at this facility, to be able to be helping our young athletes ... it's an amazing undertaking and I'm proud to be a supporter."