Canmore’s elected officials voted to subsidize the climbing community to keep an indoor facility open until Elevation Place is up and running this winter.
Council voted to provide $31,640 from its grant funding and contingency budgets to the Canmore Indoor Climbing Society to keep an indoor facility operational until a full climbing gym as part of the multiplex is operational.
The funds are half of what the society estimated it would cost to keep Vsion Climbing Gym open for the community.
“There are probably opportuntities for savings or additional fundraising efforts that can be done by the climbing society to meet their requirements,” said Councillor Hans Helder adding he wants to continue the momentum of the positive relationship the municipality has built with the climbing community.
But it was with particular interest in youth climbers, who use indoor equipment throughout the summer, and elite competitive youth climbers that the request was made.
Co-chair of the Canmore Indoor Climbing Society Steve Frangos made the presentation requesting a community initiative grant to keep the Vsion facility open until Elevation Place is ready.
Frangos said the fact the new climbing gym as part of the multiplex will not be open until the end of the year and the closing of the Vsion facility creates a void for his group, which represents youth climbers.
“The combination of these two realities brings us to a significant void for the youth we represent and the programming that we offer, as well as the broader climbing community,” he said. “Our concern is what will undeniable be a significant loss of momentum of youth climbing both recreationally and competitively in our community without a facility in the interim period of seven months.”
Frangos added a number of Canmore youth have qualified for the world championships and without Vsion or Elevation Place operational parents would be faced with commuting to Calgary four times a week.
“Many climbers do spend a lot of time outside from now until September, however that reality for youth is different,” he said.
Coun. Joanna McCallum acknowledged the awkwardness of spending over $30,000 to prevent 15 youth climbers from driving to Calgary for a sport they have chosen to compete in.
However, with far more youth involved than just elite climbers she said she could support the motion.
“Those 85 kids are the ones I am focused on and will use this gym everyday,” she said.
Deputy mayor Gordie Miskow also called it a tough decision but worried about alienating a segment of the community that they want as users of Elevation Place gym.
“I honestly believe if we kill this program right now, we kill our climbing wall,” he said.