Agassiz fitness buffs are a few steps closer to having some more elbow room.
The province has granted 60 per cent of the funding needed for a $1.1 million expansion of the Kent Fitness/Activity Centre. Chilliwack MLA John Les was in Agassiz on Monday afternoon to make the announcement. The Community Recreational Grant is worth $750,000, and will go toward the construction of a gymnasium behind the current centre.
A small crowd gathered at the Fitness/ Activity Centre to hear the announcement, which was following by applause and a few words of thanks by Mayor John Van Laerhoven.
“This facility will be a tangible demonstration of how a small community relies on the enthusiastic participation of many groups and the provincial government in meeting local needs,” he said.
The proposal for the grant was supported by several organizations, including Fraser Health, School District 78, Community Services, Youth Inclusion Partnership, Seabird Island Band and Agassiz Harrison Healthy Communities.
“We will be much better equipped to address the fitness and recreational needs of the area and support healthy active lifestyle choices for all residents and in the process help reduce health care costs.”
The District of Kent applied for the grant last year, with council approval. The current facilities are not suffice to meet the growing needs of the community, council heard back in December.
They were given three choices for gymnasium-sizes, with three different price tags. They chose the most expensive option, with the understanding they could review the project’s scope upon receipt of a grant. The application was for 80 per cent of the total cost of $1.1 million.
Now that the grant has been approved, the item will be put on a future council agenda, district staff confirmed.
The addition to the current centre will help accommodate more programming. Currently, people are sometimes being turned away due to lack of facility space. The addition of a gymnasium could also help consolidate programs that are currently piece-mealed throughout the community, including adult leagues that operate at local schools.
When council first looked at this project, CAO Wallace Mah encouraged council and staff to “get creative” for fundraising ideas. He also recommended the full-sized gym option, saying “go big or go home.”
Les made the announcement as part of a series of funding announcements throughout the weekend and into Monday. He stepped in to play “double duty” as this area’s provincial representative. Chilliwack-Hope has been without an MLA since Barry Penner resigned earlier in the year. No by-election has been called yet.
Les said the support for the expansion project at the centre was overwhelming.
“I’m looking forward to seeing this project take shape,” he said.