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NEW FACILITY SUPPORTED – The Polarettes Gymnastics club has received letters of support from the three parties in the territorial election OKing the construction of a new gymnastics facility.

Polarettes promised a new gymnastics facility

No matter who wins the April 12 territorial election, the Polarettes and Polar Tumblers Gymnastics Club will be receiving a new gymnastics facility.

By John Tonin on April 6, 2021

No matter who wins the April 12 territorial election, the Polarettes and Polar Tumblers Gymnastics Club will be receiving a new gymnastics facility.

On March 17, the club received a letter from John Streicker, the Liberal candidate for Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, saying: "We have confirmed our commitment to move forward on this project in the 2021-2022 Budget Address and have included this multi-year project in our Five Year Capital Plan."

The Polarettes have also received commitments from the Yukon Party and the NDP to move forward on the project.

"It is exciting that we are at the point where it has been publicly announced that the government has been looking at building us a preliminary designed gym," said Polarettes head coach Kimberly Jones.

"We have been working with the Liberals since 2018 on this project so we are excited to finally be sharing the work with the community for where it has been.

"We've been working with the Liberals on this for years. They've really laid the groundwork of this project with us – of course, they have been the government.

"Yukon Party, we met with and were able to have a fantastic meeting with them. They've written us a letter also saying they will continue forward and this will be a priority for them as part of the bid for the 2027 Canada Games."

At the time of her interview, Jones had not heard from the NDP, but received its letter of support last Wednesday.

Although the project was just announced publicly, Jones said, the gym has been working toward a new facility for a decade.

"The club has been working on this for 10 years, seven of those years really actively pushing this project forward," said Jones.

Ten years ago, Catherine O'Donovan, the former head coach of the Polarettes, identified that there would be a need for a new facility based on the club's growth. When Jones took over as coach, she continued the work O'Donovan started.

"When I took over her position we continued the project," said Jones. "In my time, we've seen massive growth. She really predicted what was happening in the territory. The demand for gymnastics is crazy.

"This spring, we have 453 kids registered for gymnastics in our spring session. We have 414 on the waitlist, that is not duplicates, so we almost have 100 per cent of the kids that can get in sitting on a waitlist trying to get into our programming.

"Registration for us has been insane. We open at 6 a.m. and it is filled by 6:01 and then we have people calling us thinking there has been a glitch in our registration system. Hundreds of people have been logging on to our system. It has been extremely competitive."

Those numbers were taken during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, Jones said very few on the waitlist would have been able to make it into programming.

"As COVID has evolved in the territory, we've been able to be pretty strategic about how we run our programs," said Jones. "Right now, we aren't running birthday parties, which is something we need more space to do during the pandemic.

"By not offering those, we've been able to extend our classes into the birthday party time slots so we can make sure we are getting the same number of kids in our programs."

In a non-COVID spring, Jones said, they would have between 450 and 500 kids in spring sessions.

"A few more members could get in but not anywhere close to the 400 on the waitlist," said Jones. "In an average year, we get a thousand people through here a week and there are 1,000 members actively with Polarettes."

With the new facility, Jones said, the hope is to eliminate the waitlist and allow all community members interested in gymnastics the opportunity to get involved in the sport.

"We are hoping to eliminate the waitlist," said Jones. "We have 33 staff. Our staff capacity to bring in more people is high, but our physical space capacity is maxed.

"We have outgrown the space. We are grateful for the space, but we have outgrown it. When we got it, we had maybe 50-60 members."

The new facility will be important to the bid for the 2027 Canada Games, but Jones said it will also be beneficial for sports tourism.

"Our capacity for sport tourism will go up substantially," said Jones.

"The preliminary design is built to host events. The Midnight Sun Invitational that we hosted in 2017, we are dying to host that again, but we can't host that in our current space.

"Western Canadians, Canada Games, Arctic Winter Games, I think it will get a lot of use for sport tourism purposes."

The new space will allow the Polarettes to have more capacity to run more classes, run birthday parties and have larger summer camps, said Jones.

Comments (4)

Up 1 Down 0

iota on Apr 8, 2021 at 8:28 am

From experience, I can say a letter of support from the current Yukon Liberal govt, isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Up 3 Down 1

Yukoner on Apr 6, 2021 at 9:32 pm

@Lost In the Yukon
Unfortunately helping those who require assistance doesn't get you very many votes but a shiny new gymnastics gym for all govy works does. And who can forget the Canada Games which we are bidding on, or maybe we have already awarded, hard to get a straight answer but either way an event which we somehow managed in 2007 to host successfully. How could we possibly rehost without a new gymnastics gym and shiny field house which will host the indoor soccer (oops that's not part of the games) or some other winter sport played on a field (yes that's it).

Up 10 Down 5

Brian Laird on Apr 6, 2021 at 3:58 pm

I hope it isn't another facility in Riverdale. Can it be located in Whistle Bend or Porter Creek, please?

Up 12 Down 1

Lost In the Yukon on Apr 6, 2021 at 3:54 pm

Meanwhile Challenge who was promised support by Slippery Sandy to provide housing for the disabled is getting the run around by the Director of Social Services under the direction of Pauline Frost ... nice that the Liberals have their priorities straight.

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