Fitness centre proposal in limbo

A proposal by a young Rimbey man to lease the fitness centre remains in limbo.

By Treena Mielke

A proposal by a young Rimbey man to lease the fitness centre located in the Peter Lougheed Community Centre remains in limbo.

Bayan Abou-Ghanim approached council at its Jan. 23 meeting to talk about his proposal to lease the fitness centre from the town and run it as a private entity.

He was back at the Feb. 13 meeting to hear what council had to say about his proposal.

However, council is not ready to relinquish their ownership of the fitness centre without proof that it would be financially advisable for them to do so.

“Based on the proposal he has given us the town would lose money,” said Mayor Rick Pankiw. “Also public reaction to the proposal has been negative. Unless it makes financial sense for us why would we entertain it?”

He said the town shows a modest profit from the fitness centre now.

Council agreed to provide Abou-Ghanim with the opportunity to meet with the CAO to discuss his proposal further.

“We want him to meet with Lori and go over the numbers,” said Pankiw. “The ball is in his court.”

In his original proposal, Abou-Ghanim said he would invest in new equipment to ensure the facility is up to date if given the lease.

“This would be extremely beneficial for the town and citizens of Rimbey,” he said in a letter to Mayor Rick Pankiw.

He noted, in his letter, the current facility is in need of an extensive upgrade, which he said the town has not budgeted for.

He added that limited market space eliminates the opportunity to open a second facility.

“If the town decides to go forward with this proposal they would be freed from the many operating expenses and in the meantime, will also generate income from the lease,” he said.

Mayor Rick Pankiw said the equipment at the fitness centre is functional, but is deteriorating.  He added many people travel to Sylvan Lake to take advantage of the fitness services offered there.

He noted there are some concerns about keeping the fitness centre in a town owned building.

“Because it is in our building, people would blame us when something goes wrong,” he said.