The closure of the Beltline Community Hub in mid-October raised concerns about some social programs – Calgary
The City of Calgary is closing the Beltline Community Hub after a city study cast doubt on the building’s long-term viability.
After 70 years, the building formerly known as the Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Center will close in mid-October, the city announced.
According to a briefing report presented to the city’s community development committee on Tuesday, a city study found that « the delivery of integrated social and recreational programs » from the city-owned building is « not viable. » « .
The report cited the lack of staff to run programming in the building as a factor in the rapid closure.
« I’m really sad about this, for so many reasons, » Ward 8 Councilor Courtney Walcott told Global News.
« These aging facilities, there just aren’t enough resources right now to maintain them in the way that I think we want, and in the way that I know a lot of people will actually cherish. »
Budget cuts caused the pool at the Beltline Facility and Inglewood Pool to close in January 2020, but City Council allocated one-time funding of $400,000 to allow for community use while the city worked to reallocate installation.
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The administration is reviewing social and recreational programs offered at the Beltline Community Hub to establish priorities and determine whether they can be transferred to other locations, according to the report.
The report says the Calgary AfterSchool program will be transferred to other schools.
However, a program offered by the Alberta Alliance Who Educates and Advocates Responsibly (AAWEAR) is still looking for an alternative.
The group’s Tuesday morning refresher program has operated weekly at Beltline facilities since April. It provided low-barrier access to a hot shower, food, peer support, harm reduction, medical testing, and navigation of community resources for the city’s vulnerable population.
“There was hope that we would be here until December at least, but we were told that from September we could no longer use this space,” the provincial communications officer told Global News. of AAWEAR, Marie Ferraro.
The impending closure forced the group to move its services out of the nearby Community Wise building, but Ferraro said it was access to showers that drew vulnerable Calgarians to their services.
According to Ferraro, AAWEAR is seeking support from the City of Calgary to find a new space after initially partnering with the city to operate inside Beltline facilities.
« It’s necessary, » she said. “The program keeps growing – we are attracting more participants. We’ve had no incidents, we’ve had no poisonings—it’s been a very successful program.
« If they won’t let us use this space, help us find another one. »
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According to Walcott, the closure will lead to a shortage of amenities in the area that will eventually be filled with a $45 million investment by the City of Calgary at the MNP Community and Sports Center in Lindsay Park, which sits south of the Beltline installation.
« We’re just looking to make sure we don’t lose programming, even if we don’t have program staff for that particular facility, » he said.
MNP Community and Sports Center officials said the money will be used to expand its services, expand its aquatic facilities and create universal changing rooms, among other internal improvements.
“Right now we have some capacity, but it really depends on the day of the program and the time of day,” MNP Community and Sport Center CEO Jeff Booke told Global News. “But there’s definitely the ability in the facility to add more programming.
“By adding capacity to the center, not only through space, but also through program and design, we will be able to meet the needs of more people.
The city’s report says there is no interest in the facility in its current state, which requires « significant upgrades » to reuse the pool basin, as well as updating its mechanical and electrical systems.
The cost estimate to convert the facility to social and recreational programs would require up to $35 million in capital funding and annual operating funding of more than $1 million, according to the report.
The facility and land will remain in the city’s building inventory while the administration determines its future.
« I think the city staff has really made an admirable effort to make this a kind of community center accessible to the most vulnerable populations, » Beltline Neighborhoods Association President Peter Oliver said.
« The numbers just weren’t there to get something that was a sustainable model for the community that the city could really justify keeping this building open for the long term. »
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