It’s been more than a year since a devastating fire tore through the North Peace Gymnastics Association building and the club is still looking for a permanent home.
With the status of its old facility still very much in limbo, the club has appealed to the City of Fort St. John about the possibility of building a new facility on 94 Avenue between the Pomeroy Sport Centre and the North Peace Museum.
“Before we go ahead with making a business plan, contacting architects to draw up plans, we wanted to make sure the city was aware of what we were doing and that we would be interested in partnering up with them,” NPGA Executive Director Stephanie Engelmyer said in a phone interview with the Alaska Highway Newson Tuesday.
“We know that the city has a master parks and recreation plan and we definitely want to be a part of that, but at the same time we don’t want to wait around for 20 years for a building. We know that there’s legwork that we have to down on our end at the same time.”
The club wrote a letter addressed to council on Aug. 2 in hopes to get the ball rolling on a partnership that would be mutually beneficial to both parties.
The association has been using the Stonebridge Hotel as a temporary facility, but Engelmyer said the location isn’t meeting the full needs of the club and its membership.
“We had some girls that had aspirations of going to the Olympics and they had the ability to. They were at that level and they had the potential to go far in the sport and now they are not even in a gymnastics program at all,” Engelmyer added.
“To see that and to see their disappointment was really hard and we just want to know whether or not … if it’s going to be five years away, then we can set that expectation? We at least want to give them some hope that we are trying and we are looking into options.”
On Aug. 8, city council received the letter and directed staff to initiate contact with the club to work through the details of their expression of interest in a new location and update them on the city’s master recreation plan.
Wally Ferris, the city’s general manager of community services, said the city is still waiting to hear back from its insurance company about the damages and scope of repairs related to the fire.
The process was delayed early this year when the company replaced the project manager overseeing the file, Ferris said. He expects a report within three to four weeks, after which he will write his own report and recommendations for council to consider.
“I would have liked to see that report go to council seven to eight months ago,” he said.
“We would like to finalize this and get something back to benefit the residents of the city as soon as possible.”
The insurance company is responsible for surveying and evaluating the damage with engineers to see what is damaged and salvageable, Ferris said, and whether the structure is sound to rebuild on. From there, it uses that information to issue a tender for bids on the cost of rebuilding the facility.
“Once those bids come back in to the insurer, the insurer looks at it and submits it to the city with different options,” he said. “They use that as basis of a settlement of the claim.
“We’ll have an estimate to replace what was burnt down once that process unfolds,” he added.
—With Files from Matt Preprost