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Plans to operate Vsion gym halted

The Canmore Indoor Climbing Society has cancelled its plan to operate the former Vsion climbing gym after it failed to reach a suitable agreement with the building’s landlord.

The Canmore Indoor Climbing Society has cancelled its plan to operate the former Vsion climbing gym after it failed to reach a suitable agreement with the building’s landlord.

“The landlord was looking for a minimum one-year lease and would not entertain a six-month commitment. During early discussions, the landlord indicated that another potential lessee was interested in a more enticing three-year commitment,” said CICS spokesman Steve Frangos.

“It was also important that the climbing infrastructure (walls, holds, floor mats, crash pads, etc.) remain in the facility for our plan to be viable. The mechanics of how that might work was perhaps the most significant stumbling block in attaining a workable solution.”

The move means the 16-member national youth climbing team will need to find other indoor training locations until Elevation Place is scheduled to open in December. Currently, they’re in Victoria, B.C. training with the Canadian national team. Once they return, they’ll train outdoors and likely travel to Calgary three days a week to practice in preparation for the World Youth Championship in Singapore.

It also means the CICS will have to re-apply to the town for assistance if they require another subsidy. The town originally agreed to give the climbing society $31,640 to help pay for rent at the former Vsion location, however, that agreement will now fall through.

Acting town Chief Administrative Officer Lisa De Soto said the Town is still working with the group and could offer assistance in the future.

“We’ll continue to work with the climbing group. If they can find another option or location where they need support, if it meets the intent of council, we would work with them,” DeSoto said. “We haven’t cut them a cheque.”

The development isn’t ideal for the climbing group, which has worked hard over the past months to find a new indoor climbing home to bridge the gap between the Vsion’s closing and the opening of Elevation Place.

“A great deal of effort has gone into preparing a plan to bridge the gap for indoor climbing until Elevation Place opens this winter. Since securing financial assistance from the Town of Canmore on June 12, CICS has organized the operating logistics associated with running a climbing gym, and were hopeful that our enthusiastic parent-run society, with the assistance of the climbing community, could take over operations of the existing space on July 1. The space occupied by Vsion and its climbing infrastructure was the quickest and easiest method to bridge the gap until Elevation Place opens,” Frangos said.

CICS still plans to explore other alternatives in the coming days, however, it will likely require a large volunteer effort and money from the Town of Canmore.

“The biggest difference, of course, is that we will also have to build climbing walls in any new space. We’ve been collaborating in recent days with the climbing community and those discussions suggest that with a meaningful volunteer effort a temporary facility in a new location, with the TOC financial support; can likely be accomplished,” Frangos said.

By autumn, they’d like to offer programs for recreational and competitive athletes.

“We will endeavour to continue our competitive team training (about 20 kids) at other training facilities in Calgary and Banff. Practically, it is difficult to find available space at these types of facilities at reasonable time slots for youth,” Frangos said. “We are simply disappointed that an elegant solution (time and effort) to the climbing community’s dilemma could not be reached. We now are embarking on determining alternative solutions; and are confident that some will present themselves in the coming days.”

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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