Henderson Rec looks to stretch out

Oak Bay seeks provincial money to help complete expansion project

Susan Field stretches in a cordoned-off section of the gym at Henderson Recreation Centre. Patrons are sometimes forced to use the hallways or the Muffin Nook to stretch when the gym is in use.

Users of Henderson Recreation Centre may soon have more room in which to exercise, if a request for provincial government funding is approved in the coming months.

A steady increase in attendance, coupled with the need for modernization, has led to a space crunch at the Recreation Oak Bay-run facility, located on Cedar Hill X Road in North Oak Bay.

The municipality’s parks and recreation department recently got approval from council to move ahead with a funding application for a proposed expansion, which would see about 800 square feet of space added to the centre. The bulk of the work would be done in the fitness studio, including the addition of a dedicated stretching area.

The current setup sees users doing their stretches in a portion of the gymnasium.

“Getting rid of that stretching area means that we can actually use our full gymnasium space again, which is pretty exciting,” said Meghan Mathias, the centre’s acting co-ordinator.

“It’s nice to have access to the whole space and we haven’t (had that) for a long time.”

An expansion’s domino effect would mean the centre could offer a wider range of activities as well. “Being able to reclaim the whole gymnasium means that we can expand the type of drop-in sports we offer,” Mathias said.

“There are certain things which we are sort of limited to right now. Being able to expand what we offer up here brings more of the summer camp programs up to this space and potentially (allows us to) serve more schools than we do now with our after-school programs.”

In addition to the fitness studio expansion, the project would include work on the facility’s main entrance and muffin nook, as well as upgrades to the washrooms, which have not changed since the building opened nearly 40 years ago.

The proposed project has an estimated price tag of $469,300. Oak Bay hopes the province will pick up 80 per cent of that. The rest, roughly $94,000, would come from the municipality’s capital reserve.

Oak Bay’s new parks and recreation director says the work is overdue.

“It’s not a huge expansion, but I think for the money we’ll have a much-improved facility,” said Ray Herman, who took over from the now-retired Lorna Curtis last month. “There will be a pay back, given the opportunity to generate additional revenue there.”

The parks and recreation commission’s council liaison agrees.

“That centre has a huge attendance and with this expansion, it’s going to be able to accommodate even more people,” Coun. Tara Ney said.

Photos of the project’s design concept are currently posted in the lobby of the centre, along with current photos of the affected spaces, so users can see the proposed changes.

The municipality’s funding application will be submitted to the province by the end of the year. As of yet there is no target date to start work, though Herman speculated that if all goes according to plan, it could begin in about a year.

editor@oakbaynews.com

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