The Bulkley Valley Gymnastics Association (BVGA) has big plans to expand their existing facility on the old LB Warner site.
The town of Smithers owns the building and the BVGA maintains it. The town has already given them permission for a 5,000-square-foot expansion, that will go out toward Main Street.
A structural assessment of the existing facility was done in 2020, and was given a stamp of approval for building integrity.
BVGA has hired an architect to draw up plans for the Bulkley Valley Community Sports & Recreation Centre project.
The facility will include a large open space for diverse community programming, an indoor turf strip for year-round indoor walking and running, a welcoming front entryway and boot room, accessible change rooms, bathrooms, offices, and a community learning space.
In a presentation to Smithers council, BVGA executive director Laura Collingwood told councillors the ongoing operational and maintenance costs of the Bulkley Valley Community Sports & Recreation Centre would be paid for by the operational revenues generated with the increased enrolment in all programs, as well as fundraising, regional and provincial course offerings and camps, regional gymnastics meets, community sponsorship, grant opportunities and community fundraising events.
The BVGA will continue to manage the increased footprint of the facility, provide staffing, and will include these additional operational costs in their annual budget.
“As we are just moving from the schematic planning to the design stage, we don’t have an exact price tag on the expansion yet, but anticipate it to cost approximately 1.25 million dollars,” Collingwood told The Interior News.
“The club has been fundraising for the professional planning fees, and the admin team is working hard on grant writing for various capital infrastructure grant opportunities. Once the club has a detailed quote on the project, we will be continuing to pursue grant opportunities, continue to fundraise and will also be looking for community and corporate sponsors.”
BVGA requested $40,000 from the town for the project which was sent to Standing Council for budget discussions. There will be required offsite works, and the BVGA is suggesting those funds could be directed toward the off- site works portion of the project costs.
Collingwood added as the club is expanding its scope of services, the club is changing the name of the organization to the Northern Edge Sport Association.
The name of the expanded building will be the Northern Edge Sport and Recreation Centre. The competitive gymnastics team will continue to use the Smithers Saltos Gymnastics team name.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the old LB Warner site, there are plans in the works for an affordable housing development.
The BVGA is working together with the Dze L K’Ant Affordable Housing Society to develop a cohesive plan for both joint use of the facilities on site (there is a multi-purpose space in the housing development plans, as well as an outdoor park area), safe and efficient flow for foot and vehicle traffic throughout the site, and potentially cost sharing for site preparation and construction costs.
According to the BVGA, both organizations are bringing different perspectives and an understanding that the long-term co-existence of these developments will thrive by working together in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.
BVGA’s goal is to move forward with their project within the next year and create opportunities for cost-sharing with the Dze L K’Ant Affordable Housing Society for on-site preparation wherever possible.