Commen-Terry: Help plan the future of our fitness facilities

Terry Farrell

Record staff

The Comox Valley has outgrown its indoor recreation facilities.

Anyone who uses the two fitness facilities - and, in particular, the CVRD Aquatic Centre - will attest to this.

The swimming facility at the top of Ryan Road is past its due date, and it’s time something is done.

Need proof? Go there on a weekend. Friday nights, the pool is heaving. It’s common to see 25-30 people in the “12-person maximum” hot tub on any given Friday night.

Most Sundays it’s even worse. We counted 39 people in the hot tub on a Sunday in November. When asked what the attendance for the day was, the front desk staff could only say “lots.”

Part of the reason for the weekend overload is the fact that there’s a white elephant on Vanier Road - the CVRD Sports Centre; a publicly-funded fitness facility with a swimming pool that isn’t open on weekends. It closes Friday at 3 p.m. That’s a first, in any area of Canada in which I’ve lived.

Exactly where are the user fees going? Certainly not towards fitness equipment in either of the gyms in the two buildings.

The CVRD has a total of four treadmills to service its 65,000 residents - and that’s if they are all functional. When one breaks down, it can take up to a month to get it repaired, as was the case at the aquatic centre last year.

“Parts are on order,” was the reasoning for the delay.

The aquatic centre fitness room is like an afterthought. The cardio equipment comprises two treadmills, one elliptical, a rowing machine, a rickety stair climber and three stationary bikes.

The weight training area is worse, with one multi-functional weight training apparatus, which can service four people at a time.

And if all the equipment were to be used at the same time, free weights notwithstanding, that would account for 12 people in the room, which has the square footage hardly any more substantial than the aforementioned hot tub.

A youth fitness class was held there one evening in November; half a dozen teens and an instructor. They never returned.

The sports centre on Vanier Road is marginally better - substantially better for weight training, but the same amount of cardio equipment. And the hours there aren’t great either. The fitness centre at that building is only open for a total of 12 hours on weekends.

Of course, the CVRD will tell us that the fitness rooms are adequate for the amount of people who use them.

The argument opposing that is people have stopped going, because of the lack of space and equipment. It’s a vicious circle.

To steal a line from Field of Dreams, I say, “Build it and they will come.”

And then there's the swimming issue. There was a time when the CVRD guaranteed at least one "drop-in" swimming lane would be available at all times, at the aquatic centre. Not so, anymore. There are a couple of days a week where the swimming pool is completely booked up with lessons.

On the positive side, it's great to see that there is so much interest in swimming that the facility is over its capacity. It's a good thing that parents are registering their children in physical activities, as opposed to allowing the PlayStation to occupy all their free time.

The good news is, there’s something we can do about it. The CVRD is asking for public input as to the state of the indoor recreation facilities - the aquatic centre, the sports centre, and the curling rink - as part of an Indoor Recreation Facilities Master Plan.

There are various ways to participate in the input process.

Focus groups with users will take place next Monday and Tuesday at the aquatic centre and sports centre. Go to http://bit.ly/2jjiyu2 for times of the focus group for the specific area of concern.

There is also an online survey (same link), which allows participants to voice concerns regarding any of the current facilities.

Following these initial consultations, there will be community workshops in February, and open houses in March, to share the findings and present a draft master plan.

This is our chance, as residents, to help set the future for fitness facilities in the community.

Should the swim team move to the Vanier pool? Should there be a two-tiered payment system; one price for poolside only, and one price for full facility (i.e. pool and fitness rooms)? Should there be a few free lockers available, for those who have their own locks? Is it time to expand the aquatic centre? 

We need better fitness facilities in the Comox Valley. Speak your mind.

Be a part of the solution.

Terry Farrell is the editor at the Comox Valley Record


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