The Abbotsford Twisters gymnastics club wants to create a new $20-million facility at Exhibition Park.
The group plans to fundraise to acquire the capital needed. However, it has requested and received some help from the city.
Council agreed on Monday to endorse, in principle, the new building plan and to contribute $550,000 in general reserve funding to offset the cost of development cost charges, permits and service connections.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said it was an easy decision to make.
“So let’s see, a half million dollars on the city’s part, $20 million on their part – that’s a home run. Plus it’s for kids, it’s to combat obesity, it’s going to give us a world-class gymnastics building,” said Banman.
“Twisters is just bursting at the seams,” said Andoret Barnard, chair of the Twisters gymnastics building expansion team.
She told council the facility is outdated and needs to be upgraded.
The club has been in the same building, at Exhibition Park, for the past 25 years and utilizes it seven days a week.
The new facility would be a total of 48,000 square feet. Of that, 20,000 sq.ft. would be for the gymnastic training centre, 12,000 sq.ft. for a recreational and preschool gym and the remainder would consist of multi-purpose rooms, offices, cafeteria and viewing areas.
She said the Twisters have approached Agrifair and the Silverfox Air Cadet Squadron, both located in the same area, and have been given their support.
The project also includes improvements to the cadet facility as well as outdoor recreation areas.
The Twisters have already sent several local athletes to the Olympics and want to continue that tradition of excellence, including expanding their programs for children with special needs.
“Our ultimate, long-term goal is sending athletes to the Special Olympics,” said Barnard.
She added that fitness was important for children, noting that 26 per cent of youth are overweight and only one in eight gets the recommended amount of physical activity.
Now that council has given approval in principle the Twisters will begin their capital fundraising campaign.