Sierra Schuler practises on the trampoline last month at the Nanaimo Gymnastics School. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Nanaimo Gymnastics School seeks permanent space at Beban Park

Nanaimo city staff to follow up with gymnastics school on request for permanent space at local park

Nanaimo Gymnastics School wants a place to call home and the city’s help to do it.

Mike Quarress, president on the Nanaimo Gymnastics School board of directors, said to city politicians last week it’s become clear to him to move forward and continue to progress the service in the community, it’s absolutely necessary a permanent home is found, preferably on city-owned land and asked if council is willing to finance the project with the school.

“One of the huge weaknesses is the fact that we don’t actually have our own facility,” he said, adding that since 1979 the school has operated out of facilities they’ve paid rent for. “From my knowledge of many of the other gym clubs not only on the Island but in the province, they are either supported by city land or financially, so that’s what helps them to progress and grow and these sorts of things.”

The gymnastics school, a non-profit, currently has a 6,500-square foot facility on Bollinger Road. There are 900 people who belong to the club; others have been turned away because of the size of the space, said Quarress, who does not believe the club is sustainable without wearing down on its membership. Parents continually fundraise to support rent, he said.

His club requires 10,000 square feet and is aiming to be part of Nanaimo’s Beban Park master plan.

“I think that there’s lots of benefits not just for the community and sport but also financially,” said Quarress, giving the example of provincial, western or national championships that would bring people into Nanaimo. He also said the school is willing to partner with various other sport groups.

City council directed staff members to follow up with the gymnastics club about its request, and Coun. Bill Bestwick asked it not be restricted to a facility at Beban Park but that a facility within city limits is entertained.