Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Fred Fedorak: Save our North Gym

T.N. Fedorak,
February 25, 2007

Penticton City Council,
City of Penticton,
171 Main Street,
Penticton, B.C. V2A 5A9

Dear Sirs:



Time is drawing near when the community of Penticton will have three less recreational venues and one less performing arts venue. It was announced recently by school district 67, in the Penticton Herald, that no group has come forward with a plan to save the Pen Hi Auditorium. In that press release there was no reference to the Pen Hi North Gym, which is adjacent to that building.

- Pen Hi South Gym has been demolished.

- Pen Hi North Gym is scheduled for demolition.

- Pen Hi Auditorium is scheduled for demolition.

- Nanaimo Hall, which is a City of Penticton property, is scheduled for demolition as well.

What is going to replace the above buildings? With the exception of Pen Hi, which will receive a new gym, no replacement is planned for the others.

School District 67 has placed a date of March 31 for any group that is interested in presenting a plan for the auditorium.

A growing city population requires more recreational and performing spaces not less. It is widely accepted that physical activities and other active pursuits such as music and drama are very essential to a healthy life style both for the body and the mind. Which in turn helps reduce the stress on our health systems and the persons who pay the bills, the taxpayers.

School District #15 and recently #67 are to be commended for maintaining an excellent gymnasium as well as other District properties. Having been closely connected to the history of the gym since 1959, in various capacities as player, coach, teacher, summer camp operator, I have seen several improvements carried out to a very sound structure. Several hundreds of thousands of dollars were recently spent on its renovations. The North gym has always been maintained as a first class facility. In fact the school district can take great pride on how well they have been able manage all of their properties. In the thirty-four years that I have visited other high schools, we rank up there with the best. In the opinion of numerous visiting coaches it still ranks as one of the best high school gymnasiums in the province bar none. At present we have a treasure that will not be duplicated in the future.

Prior to 1948, when the present high school was constructed, the Scout Hall, which eventually was transferred to the school district, was the gymnasium. It was a very confined structure but did serve as the South Gym. After 1948 Pen Hi had the luxury of two gymnasiums, which allowed for a second teaching station up until its demise in 2005. Several secondary schools in the province have two official sized gyms on their properties, in a number of cases; they serve as shared entities between the school and the community.

It is a well-known fact that the policy of the Ministry of Education at this time does not provide operating funding for two gymnasiums. For the good of the community of Penticton and district, some form of cooperation and transfer of ownership has to occur between School District 67 and the City Of Penticton. The physical education classes at Pen Hi would continue to maintain two teaching stations as they still had prior to 2005. If the gym and auditorium are to be demolished, we are going to have one huge asphalt parking lot bordering Eckhardt Avenue.

Saving the auditorium also means saving the gym. The cost in saving two buildings is apparently slightly more that saving just one of the structures. When the new Arts Center is to be constructed, where is to be located? How about the present site of the Pen Hi Auditorium? In the meantime the present site, with minimal upgrades would do until the Arts group get their financing in order for a new center.

It seems to me a terrible waste of structures that have maybe twenty usable years left in them. With the destruction of those buildings, what structures are going to take their place? Concerned citizens should let their elected representatives know that they would like these buildings to remain standing and that the City of Penticton develop a plan and the financing to sustain those structures.

Respectfully submitted,

Fred Fedorak

Cc: School District No. 67
Editor, The Herald
Editor, The Western Advertiser

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