MURC: 261 Garrett Styles Dr, Keswick

By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley

Georgina’s Multi-Use Recreation Complex (MURC), one of the largest projects in the Town’s history, opened its doors on March 2.

Hundreds of residents showed up for the opening, eager to see the impressive new facility.

The Mayor and council were joined at the podium by York Simcoe MP Scot Davidson, Andrew Frontini, the project’s architect, and Town staff, including CAO Ryan Cronsberry, for the official ribbon cutting.

“There is literally something here for everyone,” said Mayor Quirk, delighted to see the building full of people, especially parents with their kids.

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“We have a pool in Sutton, but as we grew, we needed another facility. We are a lakeside community, so we need swim programs for our kids to learn to swim. We also need to be able to offer a Discovery Branch to stimulate kids’ minds. And we need space for adult activities.”

“Seeing residents so excited to be here makes me feel good. I couldn’t sleep last night. It was like Christmas, and I was opening a present in front of everybody.”

“We’ve never had a facility like this. And it gives us a place for people to connect,” said Cronsberry

“Coming out of the pandemic, people need to interact. This facility will help with people’s mental health and wellness.”

Councillor Charlene Biggerstaff says the MURC addresses the growing demand for recreational services.

“People have seen how many people have come to our community and the growth that’s coming down the pipe,” she said.

“We outgrew our other facilities a decade ago. And that’s why the planning started, and that’s why we’re here.”

“This is the biggest win Georgina’s ever had. We were able to give this facility to our residents at no cost,” said Councillor Naomi Davison, who points out development charges will pay for the facility, and assessment growth will help offset the $2 million annual operating cost.

“We’re going to operate it responsibly. And, it’s not just people in the neighbourhood who will have access to it, but everyone in Georgina.”

“We have all kinds of new programs for seniors, youth, and adults that we can offer now that we have the facility to offer them.”

MURC pool. Photo: Tom Sandler
Discovery Branch Library. Photo: Tom Sandler

The $41.5 million building, spanning 85,000 square feet, consists of three pavilions that meet at a central welcome area.

This space features a large fireplace and a ceiling resembling the night sky, evoking a campsite ambiance. The pavilions are like tents, reflecting the concept of people gathering around a fire.

One of the pavilions houses an aquatics facility with a six-lane, 25-metre pool. This pool will support the competitive needs of the recently established Georgina Rapids Aquatic Club and advanced aquatic programming. It also features a two-depth leisure pool and a therapy pool.

The second pavilion has a double gymnasium with a three-lane walking track on the second floor.

The gymnasium can be used for indoor sports, registered programs, drop-in programs, special events and community meetings. There are three rooms available to rent for multi-use meetings, as well as ‘activity rooms.’

The third pavilion houses the Discovery Library. This space is not like the other libraries in Georgina. There are only a few shelves with books and periodicals, but there are spaces for all ages to meet, including a room for the youngest visitors to create arts and crafts.

This room even has a washing machine and a dryer!

Libraries are no longer ‘quiet spaces,’ so if you need to work or study in silence or take a Zoom call, there are several private rooms with computers and comfortable armchairs. For now, it works on a first-come-first-served basis.

When the weather is warm, you can use a fenced outdoor space, accessible from the library, called the reading garden, with chairs and small tables.

Adjacent to the library is the ‘Maker Space,’ two rooms with the latest digital technologies. They offer access to services and equipment such as 3D printing, large format printing, vinyl printer/cutter, laser cutting, high-end creative workstations, sewing machines (with a digital monitor!), and much more.

There is a digital media lab that includes a green screen for video production and editing, as well as digital recording capabilities.

The MURC offers a wide variety of programs and activities for all ages and abilities, such as basketball, badminton, pickleball, and, of course, swimming. A full schedule of programs is available on the Town website.

Lissa Shropshire. Photo: Tom Sandler
Andrew Mckenzie. Photo: Tom Sandler

“I think it’s amazing,” said Lissa Shropshire, a Keswick mother who brought her two four-year-olds to the opening.

“I can’t wait to sign them up for swimming lessons. And I will be registering for gym programs as well. It’s a great addition to Keswick.”

“It’s a dream come true to have this facility available in Georgina,” said Andrew Mckenzie, who was part of a group invited to play pickleball at the opening.

“So many of us have been looking forward to this for so long. We’re planning to use this facility fully every day, seven days a week.”

The spring session for all programs and lessons will begin in April. Registration for residents is already open.

In March, the MURC offers many free ‘try it’ activities,’ including swimming, and a selection of ‘Maker Space’ activities, including 3D printing and button making. Pre-registration for drop-in programs is recommended.

Monthly passes for all facilities offering recreational programs in Georgina are available, or you can ‘pay as you go.’

If you do not have a car, there is a new bus stop. The MURC is served by route 50 & 51 and YRT’ On-Request.’

For more information, visit YRT.ca

You can visit the MURC Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For information about programs and pricing, visit the Town of Georgina website and type MURC, or follow the link directly here: https://www.georgina.ca/municipal-government/building-georgina/multi-use-recreation-complex-murc.

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