Bulging fitness centre struggles to squeeze into too-tight space

Valley Fitness Centre to look at expansion options in 2019

The Valley Fitness Centre (VFC) is busting out at the seams.

While more and more members are working out to get fit and stay healthy, the bulging numbers mean the facility needs to figure out how to loosen the building’s belt. The nonprofit society is in discussions now over whether to restructure the existing facility or find a new space to call home, and have set an internal deadline of May 2019 to make that decision.

“Our membership and usage has increased to the point that we need to look at how to deal with it. This is a good problem, one the board has been grappling with for awhile now,” said Rob McAuley, 2018 president of the board, at the society’s Annual General Meeting Thursday, November 29th. “We’re hoping by May to come up with a definitive roadmap of how we want to move forward on this.”

Helen Breau, VFC executive director, outlined some of the concerns of the existing building in her report at the AGM.

“Classes and weight rooms are getting to capacity, this year we have had to cap the numbers in our classes to avoid overcrowding and we have added additional afternoon classes to take on the overflow,” she said. “In addition, our centre currently is not easily accessible to those with mobility issues. Our senior members have to climb two flights of stairs to get to their classes.”

Financial reports show a positive outlook for VFC, with revenue up 12 per cent over the year prior and the society has money in the bank “This is very good because the Centre has savings to put towards a future centre and can invest excess cash to earn interest,” writes Nancy Jenkinson in the treasurer’s report.

Attendees had a number of questions around the project, including where VFC could relocate. The old community hall site was suggested for its central location and space possibilities. Another questioned whether the new Columbia Valley Centre is looking at a second phase that could accommodate the space requirements. Mr. McAuley responded that he was not sure if there would be enough space there for a total relocation, though said they had been approached by the District to possibly relocate some programming during the under-utilized hours to the centre.

The VFC society has been in discussions with a number of other groups about the possibility of partnering on a new building, though no formal discussions have taken place. They reached out to the last Council, and hope to meet with the new Council to discuss partnership opportunities. Mayor Al Miller and Councillor Ute Juras were in attendance at the AGM to lend a listening ear.

“We’re very supportive of their efforts,” said Mr. Miller in a follow-up interview. “My plan is to work with them and see that they can find a proper place.”

As far as how involved the District might be, that will be up for discussion as the project moves forward, Mr. Miller added.

“The challenge for us right now is the land availability, and finding the right land,” said Mr. McAuley. “This is why we’d like to work with the District. For us to go out and purchase a piece of land big enough for a facility and parking, we won’t have enough money left to build the building.”

Should the society decide to stay in its current location, they have commissioned a report from a local architect to assess possible renovations to expand within the current building envelope. No firm prices for renovations have been set, confirmed Mr. McAuley in a follow-up interview.

The VFC building was originally built as part of the neighbouring inn, but was transformed into its current form by the Valley Fitness Society in 1987 when they moved in.

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