Keeping their promise given pre-election, municipal leaders in Fruitvale are looking at the prospect of opening up the village’s seniors-only gym to other age groups.
Mayor Steve Morissette cautions it’s early in the game, and although a select committee of seniors and councillors has been appointed, they have not formally weighed in on the idea.
“We’ve just established a committee with an equal number of seniors and young people on it,” Morissette began. “They haven’t even had their first meeting yet, but what they are going to look at are the pros and cons of opening it up to younger folks for possibly a couple of hours a day,” he explained.
“Having said that, it’s not a big gym and there is not a lot of equipment, so we have to be really careful with it.”
The seniors-only gym opened in 2015 with the help of a $25,000 grant from New Horizons for Seniors, as well as a number of local and regional contributions.
Because the $37,000 start-up funding was earmarked for that particular age group, one of the first aspects Morissette had to consider was if change-in-use would be counterintuitive to the original objective.
“There were multiple donors, and we haven’t touched base with all of them yet,” he said. “But we have touched base with the main one (New Horizons for Seniors), and I talked directly with them. They said it was not a problem as long as the gym is still used for seniors and they have their set time, then it’s not a problem and they said go ahead – the more people that use it the better.”
Morissette emphasized that gym use will always remain primarily for seniors, as it is not set up for heavy-duty purposes, like pumping iron.
“In my time on council over the past four years, we’ve had a few delegations coming to ask us to look at this,” he said. “They were typically young mothers wanting the opportunity to go in and use the treadmill or exercise bike after their kids are in bed, for example. It’s not young guys wanting to use the gym and it’s not set up for heavy use,” Morissette reiterated.
“The committee will look at if there is a possibility, a time in the day, when it’s not used as much so we could open it up for two or three hours for younger people.”
Gym use and future use of the former Beaver Valley Middle School were main topics at the public forum held in the Fruitvale Memorial Hall prior to the October civic election.
Last month Morissette announced the village had purchased the remaining parcel of land the school stands on, and it is now primed to delve further into revitalizing the 3.7-hectare block between Columbia Gardens Road and Green Road.
“These were key things this year,” he told the Trail Times. “Because we have quite a few people on council who are new, and I am a new mayor of course, we are using this year as a planning year. We are just getting our feet on the ground … and building a strategic plan for the next four years,” Morissette concluded. “We should finish that early this summer, and we’ll use that to guide us going forward.”