Today, Cape Breton University hosted an official groundbreaking event acknowledging construction has begun on the renovation and expansion of the Canada Games Complex. Construction to the campus facility began in early May 2023.
The Canada Games Complex was first constructed in 1986 for the Jeux Canada Winter Games, but has not seen any major renovations since its opening. The facility plays a vital role in student experience, community events and minor hockey in Cape Breton.
“I can clearly recall the opening of this building for the ’87 Canada Games and how excited the community was to have this important infrastructure on the CBU campus. Since that opening, there have been hundreds of thousands of users from minor hockey to international events and celebrations,” says David C. Dingwall, President & Vice-Chancellor of Cape Breton University. “We are thrilled to be able to bring this building back to life and expand the facility to meet the needs of our growing student body and meet the needs of the community.”
The renovated and expanded Canada Games Complex will include expanded space for health and counselling services for students through the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre, a new fitness facility and a walking track for students and the community and the modernization of the Canada Games Complex.
This facility will serve as a flagship building on the campus. When not in use as an arena, renovation improvements will allow the convocation and convention space to host conferences, dinners and concerts.
The renovation and expansion is part of CBU’s largest fundraising campaign, the Forever CBU Campaign. The $50 million campaign is part of $250 million overall investment into the campus.
“The Forever CBU Campaign is about providing better campus experiences for our more than 7,000 students and the community,” says Annette Verschuren, Co-Chair of the Forever CBU fundraising campaign and the University’s Chancellor. “The new Fitness Centre will increase recreation opportunities while the expanded Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre will enable more services for students’ physical and mental well being. These campus additions will provide our students a well-rounded campus experience at CBU.”
In the spring of 2022, Cape Breton University partnered with the Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association and launched a winning national campaign to have Sydney named Kraft Hockyville 2022. The Canada Games Complex project will be showcased during Kraft Hockeyville activities including an NHL practice and pre-season game between the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers at Centre 200 on October 1, 2023. The $250,000 prize was used to purchase a new energy efficient ice plant and electric Zamboni wil be purchased in the near future.
In March 2023, the Canada Games Complex received $8.15 million from the Province of Nova Scotia as part of a funding announcement that saw fourteen community rinks across the province receive investments.
“We’re deeply committed to making sport and recreation safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone, and this is a historic step to ensure that girls can access the sports, programming – and of course, the hockey — that they love. Today is a big day for our community, and I hope everyone has the chance to celebrate this moment.” The Honourable Brian Comer, Minister responsible for Addictions and Mental Health.
Renovations for the arena include a new ice surface that will see the current international-size surface resized to an NHL-size ice surface. The modernization will also include fully accessible dressing rooms and a raised ice surface accommodating sledge hockey. Once the renovations are complete, it will become Canada’s first arena dedicated to female hockey and para hockey, and the home arena for the Blizzard, CBU CAPERS women’s hockey team and the Cape Breton Sledgehammers sledge hockey team.
“Investing in campus and community life is one of three pillars of the Forever CBU campaign,” says Sara Burke, Vice President of Development. “We are grateful to both the Province of Nova Scotia and the grassroots fundraising of Blizzard hockey parents and players. Without them, this project wouldn’t take place. We will continue to actively fundraise to create the Home of Female Hockey and we know that the community will rally to support this project as well.”
Construction of the new complex is scheduled for completion in December 2024.