CORNER BROOK Gymnasts in the Corner Brook area are jumping with joy with the news they are finally getting a facility that meets the needs of their sport.
The replacement of the Lions Rec Centre building on Wellington Street, the current home of the Saltos Gymnastics Cub, was the highlight of a capital works announcement made by Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O’Brien when he visited Corner Brook Friday.
The $850,000 project was among more than $4.4 million worth of spending, including $2.9 million from the provincial government coffers and the rest from the City of Corner Brook.
“We’ve been looking forward to this day since the Humber Tumblers started back in the ’80s,” said Denise May, who went from being an athlete in that former gymnastics club to president of the current Saltos organization.
Local gymnasts have been training in the Lions Rec Centre space for years, but anyone who visited could tell it was inadequate, especially since the club got back into competitive gymnastics about four years ago. Among other things, the roof was leaking and the ceiling was dangerously low for some of the gymnastic events to be practised.
In those past four years, the club has also expanded beyond gymnastics to include activities like cheerleading and the more recent growing popularity of parkour, or free running.
Membership in the Saltos club has bounded from 177 four years ago to 426 currently.
“We’ve been trying to branch out with new program offerings but our space was very limiting and our scheduling was very limiting because, for example, you couldn’t put a cheer team on the floor at the same time as the parkour boys,” said May. “This new facility will not only provide more opportunities for our club, it will also meet our current needs.”
Ever since she found out the new facility was going to materialize, May has not stopped brainstorming about the things that could possibly be incorporated into the design, including maybe a rock wall for climbing, a trampoline program and a viewing area for spectators to watch events the club could now host it its own building.
Mayor Neville Greeley hopes the city will get moving on the design and construction plans early in the new year with ground broken in late March, he said.
“Depending on the type of winter we have, it could be before that.”
May said, as far as she knows, the plan is for construction to be done in such a way that Saltos will be able to remain where it is until one part of the new building can be occupied.
The Lions Rec Centre will then be demolished to complete the rest of the project.
As for the rest of the money, Finance Minister Tom Marshall, who was also at Friday’s announcement, said “half a million dollars” will be spent on a recreational upgrade of the Pepsi Studio and another $125,000 will go towards repairing the civic centre’s roof.
Greeley said the roofing repairs have already been carried out and it was too early to get specific about what was meant by a recreational upgrade of the annex.
“We are in consultations with Grenfell Campus (Memorial University) and Western Sports and Entertainment and with local sporting organizations aimed at improvements to the recreational offerings of this facility,” said the mayor.
Other spending will go towards the ongoing development of the day park at Bartlett’s Point in Curling, road repairs, upgrades to the water and sewer systems and planning for a new public works depot.
Marshall and O’Brien also both alluded to another imminent announcement, one involving the federal government, that will involve another $6 million in spending for Corner Brook.