A parking lot at Saint Mary’s University was joyously ripped up a little on Thursday.

It was the official groundbreaking of a new $8-million fitness facility called the Homburg Centre for Health and Wellness.

It will be an extension to The Tower building, which will also be renovated.

It’s slated to open in 2012.

“It will be an impressive academic, athletic and recreational complex,” said Colin Dodds, SMU president and chancellor.

And the best part for non-students: It will be open for community use.

With two MLAs in attendance, Richard Homburg told the audience how he tried to get government funding but had to move forward without any.

“I believe it’s something Halifax is missing,” said Homburg, who is contributing $5 million.

He said people will be able to go there to get advice on what fitness activities they can do to stay fit.

The details
• The centre, an extension to The Tower, will be 20,000 square feet.

• The Tower will be renovated as well.

• There will be studio space for fitness classes and an “oasis” lobby on the first floor for students to study and relax.

• There will be academic space on the second floor, as well as space for the health and wellness

• Two international conferences on health and wellness have already booked in the months after the centre’s opening in 2012.