Months-long Cindy Klassen closure leaves a hole

·3 min read

Some Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex (Cindy Klassen) users have petitioned the city to take steps to mitigate the loss of fitness programming due to a planned closure of the facility.

The city announced in April it would close Cindy Klassen on June 12 for about five months for a $1.75 million replacement of the building's fire dampers and air handling unit.

Barbara McGhee, 56, takes a variety of active living drop-in classes at Cindy Klassen. She volunteered to write a letter to petition the city after her fellow fitness class participants expressed concern about the closure.

"They were all saying 'what are we going to do?'...Cindy Klassen has the greatest variety of classes, they have wonderful instructors, and a lot of these classes are not offered at other facilities," said McGhee.

The letter, which was signed by 23 people (McGhee says she could have easily gotten more signatures, but she wanted to send it to the city to "get the ball rolling"), calls for the city to run classes at other facilities during the closure.

Online, the city listed 138 active living drop-in classes being offered at 11 different pools and fitness facilities on May 30. Of those, 47 classes—over one-third—were scheduled at Cindy Klassen.

McGhee says active living participants are also concerned that their instructors, who she says are self-employed, will find new jobs and not return if the city does not keep Cindy Klassenclasses running during the five-month closure.

"When Cindy Klassen closes they won't be given jobs (by the city) elsewhere," she says.

The Leaf asked the city if there are plans to continue Cindy Klassen programming in any other locations. In an email response a city spokesperson said, "customers impacted due to the closure are encouraged to continue their pursuit of physical activity at alternative City recreation and leisure facilities."

Coun. Cindy Gilroy says city-owned facilities have seen lengthy closures over the past two years due to the pandemic, which would have been a good opportunity to complete upgrades.

"It is a little bit frustrating for me because I feel that some of this work could have been done then."

In response to McGhee's letter, Gilroy said she is asking the Community Services Department if it's possible to move Cindy Klassen programs to other locations.

"People don't want to lose their programming," she said, "those are things that we're in the middle of looking at, and I can't promise anything, but I think that's a fair question for that community group to ask."

Gilroy said city-owned recreation facilities, such as the Valour Community Centre Orioles Site on Burnell Street, could be utilized for more fitness programming.

"We could have stuff happening right in their local community."

Marianne Cerilli, a community development consultant and past president of Friends of Sherbrook Pool, a non-profit group which lobbied to save the West End pool when its fate hung in the balance in 2013, believes the city is not interested in preserving drop-in fitness programming. She worries the Cindy Klassen closure will lead to a permanent loss of programs and staff.

"They've done it in other facilities, and we don't want it to happen in this facility," says Cerilli.

Since sending the letter in May, McGhee said she was contacted by the city and told more classes may be added to Sergeant Tommy Prince Place in the fall, depending on instructor availability.

Sean Ledwich, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leaf

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