Complex competes with business, gym says

The owners of Concrete Fitness are asking the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District to conduct a formal review of programming at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

The owners of Concrete Fitness are asking the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District to conduct  a formal review of programming at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Concrete Fitness owner Stefan Hoelzler made a presentation to the City/CRD joint committee last week requesting a service review and asking the two agencies — one who owns the building, the other who operates it — to not expand the gym to decrease the number of program offerings, yoga for example, and to no longer offer personal training services.

Hoelzler said his concern is the growth in CMRC offerings that “compete directly with our and other’s business.”

“There’s a lot of things that money could be spent on,” Hoelzler said of providing those particular services. “Our pool is in disarray. I feel that money could be spent elsewhere while not impacting business, yet still offering services to the community.”

He was careful to point out the intent is not to shut CMRC down but rather to have money spent on areas like the pool.

But Williams Lake chief administrative officer Brian Carruthers said for CMRC, programming revenue is critical. Carruthers said the facility operations are paid for through taxation to residents who live in the City of Williams Lake and some residents in surrounding electoral areas E, D, and F.

The cost to operate the facility is offset by the revenue its programs generate; therefore, the more revenue the complex makes the less money is required to be paid through taxation to residents of those areas.

“So what we try to do is generate as much revenue as possible to offset those costs. There are only a couple places we can generate revenue. One is through the arena side, through ice rental and the other side of it is the programming. So we do fitness programs, yoga, pilates and people either pay to drop in or they can attend if they buy a fitness pass to the facility,” Carruthers says.

The building’s capital budget is not offset by revenue.

Hoelzler further expressed concern regarding the granting of “free” fitness and promotional passes by the complex. He says because of the level of property tax he pays at his business he is not able to provide such discounts.

Carruthers says the facility has offered promotional passes at Christmas and some different times throughout the year and now is providing physicians with passes for patients seeking a lifestyle change. Those passes allow individuals to visit the facility a limited number of times to try it out.  He agreed the City has a wellness program for staff which gives them access to the facility. For that, the City pays the complex for its use by staff. Thompson Rivers University students also have the opportunity to use the facility without charge; however, that is part of an agreement struck between the City and TRU that allows the community to access TRU’s gym (formerly Anne Stevenson High School) and soccer field as an exchange.

“That was a negotiation that took  place with TRU. In exchange for their students getting access to the complex our entire community gets access to that gym and the soccer field,” Carruthers explained.

The complex also has a reduced-fee schedule for low-income individuals. He further added that the City is in the process of adjusting and increasing its rates to make them  comparable to those charged by similar-sized jurisdictions.

“What we found in past years is that we were below average for what we were charging.”

Joan Sorley, CRD electoral area F director and co-chair of the City/CRD joint committee, says the committee hasn’t made a decision on Hoelzler’s request. She expects the committee to discuss it at its next meeting Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

As for concerns regarding expansion, Sorley said there have been no discussions regarding the facility’s gym. The committee has passed two resolutions to maintain the status quo except in the area of ongoing maintenance and to not commit any “major funds” to the facility.

“We’ll do what we need to do to keep it running as long as we can but we’re not committing to a big capital project on the facility itself.”

Sorley says due to the uncertainty surrounding the life of the pool, the committee has agreed to go to the community to talk about the facility’s future and to develop a plan.

A number of other local fitness facilities have signed Hoelzler’s request for a formal review of services at CMRC. In letters written to the City, the Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Area and the Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce also favour a review.

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