Deal in works to keep Thornhill gym open

The Regional District of Kitimat Stikine is looking into what it can do to keep the doors of Thornhill Junior Secondary School's gym open.

THE KITIMAT-Stikine regional district is in talks with the Coast Mountains School District to keep the Thornhill Junior Secondary School gym open after the school closes for good in June.

The gym is the largest in the area and keeping access is regarded as critical for local sporting groups.

Thornhill Junior is to close in June because of declining enrolment.

During debates on the school closure the loss of the gym was an issue brought up time and time again as sports groups spoke of its value to the area.

Thornhill regional district director Ted Ramsey said while he doesn’t have a date to finalize anything he expects the regional district and the school district will come to an agreement.

“It’s in the process and it’s pretty positive,” Ramsey said last week.

One option would be for the regional district to lease the gym from the school district.

“I don’t want to see it boarded up. I want to have access to it,” Ramsey said, noting the building’s value to the community of Thornhill.

Thornhill school board trustee Gary Turner was also optimistic the two local public sector entities could reach a deal.

“I’m hoping we can come to some kind of agreement,” Turner said.

The school district has already taken the position that it won’t use any of its own money to keep the gym open for sports groups, but is receptive to any groups who want to come forward and work on a solution.

The gym is used by sports groups such as the badminton and archery clubs, as well as indoor volleyball and soccer leagues.

“It is critical for us to have a facility of the quality of the Thornhill school to maintain our program,” said Norm Parry, president of the Terrace Badminton Club.

Parry said with high ceilings and six badminton courts, the gym offers more than other school gyms.

“If you take a major facility like that out of the basket of facilities … then everyone will have to try and share the remaining few,” Parry said.

His fears on moving to another gym also include having to fight for an early enough time for badminton players to have access to it.

With 35 junior players on the courts, late start times would be a deterrent for younger players.

The Terrace Whiskey Jack Archers recently moved into the gym.

Club president Jaco Fourie said the move is an absolute necessity as the club’s former location in the Thornhill Community Centre was cramped, raising safety concerns and curbing the number of members able to participate.

“In a safe an absolutely ideal environment we can now shoot at double the distance, with twice the number or archers,” Fourie said, adding the club will also be able to now host indoor competitions.

He said the club would collaborate with other groups to keep the gym open.