As the club nears its half century mark, members of the Terrace Peaks are worried now that cutbacks have forced them to a “bare bones” budget.
President for the Terrace Peaks Karen Ting says the majority of money to run the club is coming from the fundraising efforts of parents.
This pressure comes from recent years of B.C. gaming grant cutbacks, a blow felt by many sports groups. Ting said the Peaks used to get about $80,000 a few years ago and are now receiving only $10,000.
To operate its shoestring budget, Ting explains that each year, the club must raise $30,000 to pay for basic necessities such as coaching costs and utilities. To achieve this, parents of gymnasts in the competitive group must commit to 35 hours per year, or pay out money for that time instead.
Secretary Treasurer for the club, Lori Almgren, said one concern about operating on a bare-bones budget is that nothing is left over for upgrades or maintenance for equipment or the facility. All money is used to operate the facility.
Even cleaning is done by parents, and as of last September, both Almgren and Ting had put in well over 200 hours each for the year.
“I don’t feel it’s realistic to go on at this level of spending,” Almgren said. “Our goal really is to get our numbers up.”
Ting is in full agreement, and explains that maintaining the sport of gymnastics is important for the youths of Terrace not only for health and fitness, but also for a feeling of accomplishment that comes from hard work.
“I personally see the benefit in my child…there are a lot of good things about gymnastics,” she said. “When I look back 20 years and see the work that went into this building, it is paramount it goes on.”
The Terrace Peaks started in the early 1970s in the gymnasium of Clarence Michiel Elementary school (now Suwilaawks Community school.)
For 21 years, the club stored its equipment in the basement of the school, with parents, coaches and gymnasts faithfully hauling out beams, mats and equipment for every practice.
Gymnastic meets were held at Skeena Secondary school, and volunteers would load up trucks to move the equipment.
“It was a dream for so many people for so long to have our own building,” said Wanda Fairless, a long-standing member of the club, who spent countless volunteer hours with her husband Ed as their two daughters took part in gymnastics.
She points out that not many gymnastics clubs in the area have the opportunity to have their own buildings.
When it came time to name the building, the club named the gym after Ed Fairless, in honour of his dedication and hours spent raising money for the building. Although Ed died before the building was completed, he was presented with a letter before he passed from the club announcing that the gymnastics club would be built in his name.
“It is parents that made this club, and it is parents that are keeping it going,” Wanda Fairless said. “There are hundreds of people in this town who own a piece of this gym, because it was built by volunteers.” In total, $250,000 was raised to build the facility through grants and donations and its doors opened in 1991.