Terrace Standard

Vandals’ damage sucks money from gymnastics

Professional Cleaners, Industrial Restoration, were hired to clean the gym after a fire extinguisher was set off inside the gymnastics club. Half of the foam in this foam pit needs to be replaced.   - CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Professional Cleaners, Industrial Restoration, were hired to clean the gym after a fire extinguisher was set off inside the gymnastics club. Half of the foam in this foam pit needs to be replaced.
— image credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Terrace Peaks Gymnastics Club wants to know who is responsible for a break-in and vandalism that took place at their gym during the early morning hours over the Remembrance Day long weekend and caused nearly $10,000 in damages.

At around 2 a.m. Nov. 11, a person or persons broke into the back of the gym and set off one of the club’s fire extinguishers inside the building, said gymnastics head coach Ambra Marak.

“The whole gym was filled up with foam, it was just filled with the stuff,” she said, of what the scene looked like when she arrived to assess the damage on Sunday morning.

“We just want to know who did it.”

There was a fundraising dance happening at the Thornhill Community Centre next door to the gym the night of the break-in.

“Somebody has to know something,” she said, noting that there were bouncers at the event and people milling around outside near the doors to the club.

The club had to cancel two birthday parties scheduled for that Sunday and shut down operations for more than a week while it assessed the damage.

It is expected to be back up and running this week.

Industrial cleaners spent three days cleaning up the foam, which settled into all of the nooks and crannies of the space, which features tumbling mats, climbing walls and ropes, a foam pit, balance beams, and a trampoline, amongst other gymnastics gear.

The dry chemical powder in fire extinguishers is said to be non-toxic and people in the community offered to help clean up the room, but the club chose to use industrial cleaners to make sure it was cleaned thoroughly because so many children use the gym.

The incident is expected to cost around $10,000, which includes replacing half of the foam in the foam pit and cleanup costs.

When first on the scene, the club thought all of the mats might have to go.

But it’s since realized they are still usable, said Marak.

The club’s insurance deductible is $1,000, and the non-profit organization doesn’t have that kind of money on hand, she said.

“We fundraise all year just to keep the gym open and running,” she said, noting the club holds about five fundraisers a year.

“So to have someone break in and do something as violating as that...”

There are six employees who work at the club, and cancelling classes means losing a week’s worth of wages, said Marak.

“It’s been a bit of a nightmare for all of the workers,” she said.

And the five young athletes who are training for provincials had to travel to Kitimat three times last week in order to keep up with their training.

“At this point to not train for a week is detrimental,” she said.

The Terrace Forensic Identification Unit is assisting in the investigation and was at the scene early last week in the hopes of finding fingerprints or other physical evidence.

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