by EVAN MATTHEWS
Though they say staying open for the month of August is a step in the right direction, many Valemount gym users contend the regional district isn’t listening to the needs of locals.
While it’s open on weekends in the winter, the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre summer hours came into effect Apr. 1 with the gym open Monday to Fridays, 11 AM – 8 PM, closed weekends and statutory holidays.
Many gym users say these hours are impractical for people who work.
In March, the regional district board approved a 21 per cent increase to the taxpayer’s annual requisition — this year’s requisition is $373,460 comparatively to 2016’s $294,530 — a decision 75-year-old Morris Turmel says should provide locals with a facility that listens to its users.
Turmel typically goes to the gym five mornings a week, often riding the stationary bike, step-master or the rowing machine.
“I can understand closing on stat holidays, but what about the weekends?” asks Turmel.
“It’s open on the weekends in the winter, so I don’t know why they’d change them — especially after the big tax hike,” he says, pointing again to the need for better public input.
The answer, according to the district, is the same it’s always been.
“It should be open seven days a week… 6 AM – 9 PM,” — Kyle Marchetti, regular gym user
“The hours reflect typical usage patterns that have been observed over the years, and this year will be open on a trial basis all year,” says the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George’s General Manager of Community Services, Donna Munt, adding the local Canoe Valley Recreation Centre Management Committee and the Regional District Board supported the 2017 budget.
When contacted about the story, Regional District Representative Dannielle Alan referred the Goat to Regional District staff.
Vern Mickelson of the rec centre’s local Management Committee could not be reached for comment by presstime. Committee member Hollie Blanchette declined to comment, referring us to Mickelson.
Turmel says he’s expressed interest in joining the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre Management Committee to regional district representatives, but he hasn’t heard back from anyone at the district.
Committee meetings are not advertised.
When asked what the regional district’s public input process is like in reference to the arena and fit pit, Munt said, “The public is encouraged to contact the regional district directly if they have questions or comments on any of our facilities, or they can feel free to drop off comments in the suggestion box located at the recreation centre.”
Though putting neatly folded comments in the suggestion box is a nice idea, regular gym user Kyle Marchetti, says the summer situation is pretty simple: the hours do not work.
“It should be open seven days a week… 6 AM – 9 PM,” says Marchetti.
“It should be the same as winter, as summer does not dictate if someone is a daily gym user whatsoever.
“Often it’s busier in summer, as everyone’s (workout) routines have all been mashed into these set times, which dictates the equipment people are using and what muscle groups are available to work on,” he says.
The regional district says the tax increase will ensure there are sufficient funds in reserves in case of major repairs to the building, and for future capital projects.
Upcoming repairs include a compressor rebuild, installing infrastructure to recapture surplus heat — which will reduce propane cost substantially — and to have a dedicated change room for the exercise room clients, but again, Marchetti says the district simply isn’t listening.
“We don’t need change room upgrades, only equipment upgrades and gym hour (changes), as well as regular maintenance on the equipment,” says Marchetti, suggesting the district adds a second level above the fit pit to put cardio equipment.
“They should get some more weights downstairs and a much, much needed power rack, along with more chest and back equipment,” he says, also thanking Steve Barnes from Dynamic Weight Training for his recent donation of a bench press station.