Council to debate gymnastics planning

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After five years of advocating for a new city-supported facility, Dynamyx could be one step closer to its goal.

On Monday, council will vote on whether or not to engage in a memorandum of understanding with the club on joint gymnastics planning.

Dynamyx has been advocating the city for a new facility for the past five years.

Currently, the gymnastics club leases a space in Campbell Park. Increasing demand is putting pressure on the aging facility, which is already subject to overcrowding, due to limited space.

“We’re getting to a point where we can’t provide the service level that other cities are providing or that we see should be provided to the citizens of St. Albert,” said Cathy Schwer, president of the Dynamyx Gymnastics Club.

While the club looked into the possibility of building a new facility through the now defunct Capital Partnership Program, it’s financially unsustainable for the not-for-profit to build a facility without the help of municipal funding.

The club is now advocating for a city-supported, multi-purpose facility, similar to the one recently built in Spruce Grove. The Border Paving Athletic Facility is owned and operated by the city and primarily houses the Aerial Gymnastics Club.

“The Spruce Grove model has been successful,” said Schwer. “(The city) doesn’t obtain a debt on a year-to-year basis and it’s only been two years running, because it leases it out to other user groups as well.”

Schwer said the campaign for a new gymnastics facility lost a lot of momentum when the city cancelled the Capital Partnership Program.

“It caused a lot of work for us and maybe some delays — where we would maybe have been doing this advocacy before, but felt like the city was really directing us to do the CPP,” she said.

The club has since regained its momentum, presenting to council multiple times. An MOU would create some accountability for council to continue these discussions after the municipal election in October.

“We do not want to start this process again with a new council in October. We really want something on the table with this council,” said Schwer.

Schwer, who will be presenting to council ahead of the debate on Monday, says the issue is about more than the club’s need for additional space. It’s about providing equal access to all recreation opportunities.

While the city supports other recreation groups through the construction, operation and maintenance of tennis and pickleball courts, pools, soccer fields, baseball diamonds and arenas, gymnastics has never been included in recreation planning.

As a result, the club incurs additional maintenance and repair costs, which are then passed on to members in the form of fees.

Gymnastics is one of the top 10 most popular sports in Canada and one of the top three foundational sports.

“It definitely isn’t a low key sport,” said Schwer, who hopes St. Albert will take into consideration the support other similarly-sized municipalities, like Red Deer, Airdrie and Grande Prairie, have offered clubs in their communities.

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Michelle Ferguson