Calgary’s Genesis Centre earns its name
The word genesis means a beginning or origin. When it comes to this definition, the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary was aptly named. Opened in January of 2012, the centre filled a longstanding void in sport, recreation, wellness and cultural services for residents.
In addition to the full complement of fitness, health and recreation services, the complex provides facilities for large cultural events and activities, as well as urgently needed indoor and outdoor soccer fields. It also offers access to a range of social services, including English-as-a-second-language programs.
Fittingly for a community centre, construction of the $120-million facility was a collaborative effort.
“We were a catalyst in making this happen with three other founding partners: the North East Centre of Community Society, YMCA Calgary and the Calgary Public Library,” said James McLaughlin, manager of capital development with Calgary Recreation.
“It’s a good example of what happens when diverse groups get together with a common goal to respond to community needs.”
That diversity is a central theme of the centre, and for good reason.
“Northeast Calgary is the most culturally diverse corner of the city,” said Glenda Marr, business development manager for the Genesis Centre.
“Most community centres just think of sports, but we are like a second home for many people and a hub of the northeast sector. We host religious, cultural and community events, so we’re not just a place to exercise – we’re far more than that.” – Glenda Marr, Genesis Centre business development manager
“Sixty-one per cent of residents are visible minorities and 43 per cent were born outside of Canada. Our focus is to be as welcoming as possible, no matter who you are or where you’re from. That has certainly influenced some of our programming and services. Most community centres just think of sports, but we are like a second home for many people and a hub of the northeast sector. We host religious, cultural and community events, so we’re not just a place to exercise – we’re far more than that.”
In his dual roles as father of two teenagers and president of the Taradale Community Association, Harwinder Kang appreciates all the centre has to offer.
“My kids grew up using the library and many of the recreational facilities,” said Kang. “As an association, we take advantage of the space for meetings and events that, in the absence of this facility, simply could not take place.”
Filling needs is what the centre is all about, as it provides programs that would not otherwise exist in the area, including those catering to newcomers.
“Even the building’s design takes into account the needs of the local community,” said McLaughlin. “For example, the facility includes soccer fields instead of ice rinks to meet the demand in the area.”
With 1.6 million visits per year, the centre draws from a wide area, but still fosters a sense of tight-knit community.
“It’s a place that makes people feel comfortable, where they can talk to others in a similar situation,” said Kang. “It really brings them together.”
This year, the Genesis Centre celebrated five years of bringing people together, launching a number of Canada 150 initiatives over cake and visits from dignitaries. While they celebrate the past, their eyes are fixed squarely on the future.
“We are now evaluating what we’ve accomplished and what we still have to do,” said Marr. “That includes visioning, revisiting our values and planning our endeavours over the next five to 10 years. The community is growing rapidly, so we need to stay relevant and continue meeting the needs of our members.”
Whatever form that plan takes, it’s bound to be the genesis of great things to come for the centre and the people it serves.