Government to examine other athletic centres
© — Star photo by Frank Gale
From left: Lenie Rowsell and Evelyn and Everett Davis were among the hundreds of people who attended a rally to protest the closing of the West Coast Training Centre on Thursday.
STEPHENVILLE While users groups didn’t get what they wanted at a rally against the closing of the West Coast Training Centre in Stephenville, they did get plenty of support.
An estimated 350-400 people from the Bay St. George area turned up to the rally, where there was a protest against the closure of the multi-use recreational facility that had just a 48-hour notice.
When MHA Tony Cornect for the Port au Port District stood up to tell the crowd that there was a three-month extension to the closure, and that it won’t be closing now until June, there was some relief. But many still saw it as not enough time for another entity to take over operation of the facility.
Terry French, minister of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said the three-month extension would be the limit.
“The users were looking for a year extension and because of the time of year that it is right now, with a major taekwondo tournament coming up, we (government) decided to grant the three-month extension,” he said.
The province continues to operate the Labrador Training Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which includes a pool. Also, it operates pools in Corner Brook and Gander housed under the Arts and Culture Centres. French said government is planning on having discussions with the users of these facilities too because it’s not fair for the province to be operating a municipal facility.
French said government will be advertising for expressions of interest from groups wanting to run the Stephenville facility.
He also said there will be no subsidy provided to the group that takes it over, and it would have to be run like a business and retrieve the costs of running and maintaining it through user fees.
St. George’s-Stephenville East MHA Joan Shea said she is aware the centre plays an important role for health and wellness for a lot of people in the area and that she would be more than will to work with any group that would like to take ownership of the centre.
She said she would try to help out with the facilitation of that transfer.
Mayor Tom O’Brien of Stephenville saw the three-month extension as a positive step.
“We have more life today than we had yesterday,” he said of the delay to close. “Government is prepared to accept a proposal to keep the facility going and transfer it to some other entity.”
He said representatives of user groups are putting a committee together to try to put a viable plan in place for the continued operation of the facility. He said the Town of Stephenville couldn’t take on the facility on its own and it would have to be a regional collaboration.