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Royal Roads University unveils new conference centre at site of old pool in Colwood

The space will be open for public bookings starting January 2022
Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, speaking outside the newly unveiled Dogwood Auditorium at Royal Roads University, on Oct. 8. Due to COVID-19, the event was livestreamed. (Screengrab)

Royal Roads University unveiled its newly transformed Dogwood Auditorium today, with Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, heralding the building as a significant addition to the West Shore.

The space is set to be the first major conference space on the West Shore, Dean said, speaking at a press conference outside the auditorium. The building has 500 seats and will hold lectures and convocations for students and also be available for events for the public starting in January 2022.

Phillip Steenkamp, RRU president, said the project was completed on budget despite the pandemic. It cost $15.2 million in total, most of which was provided by the provincial government — $14.6 million — with the rest coming from the university.

Steenkamp said the building was named after the dogwood tree, which is significant to local Indigenous cultures. He added a separate event would be held with the Heron People Circle for a blessing ceremony.

School chancellor Nelson Chan said he looks forward to seeing students and members of the public visit the space, which was once the university’s pool building.

“Going from pool days to school days was no small feat,” he said. “In addition to re-imagining the future possibilities of this building, we have honoured its history by preserving the heritage facade.”

The pool, built in 1959, was shut down shortly after the turn of the millennium and had been used for the university’s squash courts and locker rooms.

The front entrance features a new art piece titled All My Relations designed by Kwakwak’awakw artist Carey Newman, which was produced in collaboration with Asma-na-hi Antoine, the university’s director of Indigenous engagement.

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