Program cuts and rising fees could be coming to Glacier Gymnastics as the result of a proposed $23,000 annual rent increase.
The club has been paying the same monthly rent of $1,575 for its space at the Civic Centre since 2004. That included janitorial and minor maintenance costs, while the city picked up the bills for heat, light, water, sewer, garbage and taxation.
But after a review by facilities manager Peter Sinstadt, city staff proposed rewriting Glacier’s lease to account for rising utilities costs. That would mean a jump from $19,000 to $42,000 in rent, which club manager Steve Long says is unrealistic for Glacier to take on all at once.
“We’re a not-for-profit society and it always comes down to money,” said Long, who asked city council Monday to rethink the increase. “We’ve got a few challenges right now and when we add the increase in rent to those challenges, it just makes the financial math not work.”
Glacier Gymnastics has been located in their current space since 1992. Along with Nelson Youth Soccer, the gymnastics club is Nelson’s biggest sports organization with over 1,200 participants.
The club showed a profit of just over $20,000 at its last annual general meeting in November. But that figure would have been a loss of $26,565.25 had a gaming grant of $47,000 not been received just prior to the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Add the proposed rent increase to their budget and, according to Long, suddenly Glacier isn’t doing all that well.
“I understand where the city is coming from for maintaining the facilities and paying the bills,” he said. “It’s just a big increase all at once.”
Mayor Deb Kozak said the club isn’t being singled out, and that other user groups have also had to face increased fees as lease agreements are renewed.
She added staff will work with Glacier to find other funding solutions, which might be in the form of provincial, regional or Columbia Basin Trust grants.
“It certainly isn’t a punitive action at all. This is to cover costs,” she said.
Glacier’s presentation to city council focused in part on the mentoring done by its coaches. Board member Mike Finley pointed out Glacier’s focus on female athletes makes it unique in Nelson.
“We’re about 85 per cent girls in a sporting milieu that ignores girls a lot of the time,” said Finley. “It’s a safe place, especially as they are transitioning into young women. It’s a safe place for them to be where they don’t have a lot of the outside pressures that they might have at school or at home.”
The presentation also pointed to renovation work that has already been done by the club, which includes a $60,000 floor project as well as a mezzanine to open up addition space.
Long said the club’s budget has relied heavily on the gaming grant with a focus on investing in new equipment.
“Everything we do is to increase programming,” he said. “We have wait lists, we have parents who are upset because they can’t do more gymnastics. If they are in one hour a week they want to come in twice a week. If they are in twice, they want to come three times.
“We just don’t have space for it. The massive renovations we’ve done was to help with that, but now we need more infrastructure, staff and coaching. That costs money.”
It also opens up questions about the future of Glacier.
The club, which curiously was left out of Civic Centre concept designs in the 2014 Recreation Master Plan, is tightly packed and in clear need of a purpose-built gymnasium.
Kozak said as the city considers the future of the 82-year-old Civic, there’s obvious value in where Glacier is currently located.
“That kind of space is the dream of recreation programmers because of that multi-use capacity,” she said. “It’s a money maker and it helps to fund other programs that need to be subsidized as well as to work in the building. Well into the future I think we need to consider that too.
“It’s not that we don’t support gymnastics. It’s that we need to think in different ways about how we house these activities. They may have outgrown the space they are in.”
Long doesn’t disagree with that sentiment. He added he hopes Glacier’s future becomes more clear once a report by the Recreation Task Force, which Glacier is a part of, is submitted to the Recreation Commission in the fall.
For now he’s more concerned about how the club will pay its bills.
“We have a lot of low-income families, we have a lot of single parents through the club,” he said. “Everything we hear in the news these days is increasing costs about just about everything. If you add something like gymnastics, which is somebody’s elective, at some point something has to go and does that mean their kids can’t come to class? We’d hate to see that happen.”