The Quesnel Technics Gymnastics Club (QTGC) is dismantling equipment and packing up its floor for the move out of Maple Drive Junior School.
The club has called the School District #28 (SD28) building home for 13 years, but when the club’s board of directors re-signed the lease with the school district at the end of August this year, they were told a 30-day Notice to Vacate clause had been added to the contract.
Sure enough, they were notified a few months later about the plans for students at Quesnel Junior School to relocate south of town.
“The school district is doing a good job of accommodating us,” says the president of the gymnastics club’s board of directors, Marlene Higgins.
“I can’t say enough for how much Bryan Mix, SD28 secretary treasurer, has done for us.”
The club was found a spot in another SD28 building: the former École Baker Elementary.
“We’ll be using the gym there, which is about 4,000 square feet, in comparison to the 6,000 square feet we currently have at Maple Drive,” says Higgins.
“There are a few classrooms we can use as well, so our Kinder Gym programs will fit in there.”
Higgins adds that with around 425 registered gymnasts annually, even 6,000 square feet was a bit small for the club’s needs, but there were no other facilities around town that would work.
The club puts on recreational programs for children from walking (around 18 months) to age six, a high school program and a competitive program with about 30 athletes. They also offer classes in parkour (obstacle course training).
“We had looked at other buildings and we didn’t see anything that would be suitable. We inquired with Maple Park Mall, but they wanted a lot more for the space than what the school district asks,” she says.
Other facilities they looked at didn’t have high enough ceilings or enough floor space.
As it is, the club will have to reduce its open floor space to make room for the vault and tumble track.
“If we kept our floor the perfect size, we wouldn’t have space for the additional programs. It’s unfortunate, especially for competitive. But the coaches are confident we can work with it,” Higgins comments.
They won’t have floor space to set up the trampolines permanently, so Higgins is looking into options to keep that program running.
“We are talking with Correlieu and the soccer facility to see if we can run the trampoline program over there, or at least have our athletes go over there to train.
“It is going to work out; we are going to make it work.”
École Baker Elementary currently houses a daycare, a branch of the School District’s StrongStart program, the drop-in Quesnel Youth Centre, the Cadets and a private professional. The Whole Child Early Learning Centre, which was also displaced from Maple Drive Junior School, is moving its school-age program to the West Quesnel School as well.
It’ll be a full house, but Higgins sees opportunity there.
“I’m hoping we can work with the day cares, StrongStart and the Youth Centre and offer up our equipment for their use as well.
“I’ll be looking into how we can have a certified coach available and get more groups in there if possible.”
The club has cut its fall session short, closing yesterday (Dec. 19), a little earlier than usual. The move to Baker will take place Dec. 27-30.
It’s going to be a bit expensive; we are having to reimburse clients for classes they are missing or make them up at later dates, and, of course, we are paying our employees through all this, comments Higgins says.
“The school district is lending us a truck, but the expense of the move is on us.”
Higgins says they would welcome any help with the move from community members, if anyone has time and is willing to lend a hand.
The club’s regular classes will begin again Jan. 7.
It’ll look a little different, but I don’t see any disruption to our programs, Higgins says.
”Some people are going to be happy about the location and others will not. It’s hard for people to judge what they don’t know yet.”
Aside from the headache of moving the club’s core program, Higgins and the board are also charged with finding space for its annual Gold Pan Meet mid-February.
The meet is a zone qualifier for Provincials. Athletes from Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Prince George, Williams Lake, Smithers and Terrace are attending, as well as a group from Vancouver.
It’s a big meet for the north, she says.
The club’s new space in École Baker Elementary can’t accommodate the meet.
The gymnastics club’s board has already secured a spot at Correlieu.
“The school district is being very gracious with letting us use Correlieu’s facility.
“It will be a lot of work to move our floor, and we have to purchase or rent standalone kits for bars so that we can have all the apparatus over at Correlieu.”
In the meantime, last spring the club began working with the City of Quesnel, the indoor soccer facility and the organization Success by 6 – a partnership between United Ways, Credit Unions of BC, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Aboriginal and community leaders – to apply for a grant from the B.C. Rural Dividend for a new facility.
“The QTGC board of directors has been working on getting a new space since 2006,” says Higgins.
The board’s original plan was for a facility dedicated to gymnastics, but as time went on, other organizations got involved. The proposal put forward would be an addition to the current soccer building and would include a new entry-way with a lounge and climbing wall, the gymnastics club, more space for the soccer facility and an indoor playground.
It’s a project worth just over $6 million, says City of Quesnel grant writer Karen Borsato.
“It’s a neat project because it’s such a nice partnership between the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee [a partnership between the City and the Cariboo Regional District]; Success by 6, which was the organization pushing for the playground; the soccer association and the gymnastics club. It was very co-operative and everyone gave feedback on the design.”
Over the past years, Higgins says the club has been reinvesting any profits into buying newer and better equipment, so if they get a new building, they’ll be able to set everything up in one place.
She adds they should hear something by the end of January, but even if they get the funding, they’ll likely be at École Baker Elementary for at least 18 months.
“If it comes through, it would be amazing. I have faith that the City is working for us and pushing on our behalf.
“All we need is community support.”