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Beltline Community Hub to close in mid-October

The Beltline Community Hub is being closed come mid-October after a feasibility study showed delivering different programming isn’t viable.

The report comes as a briefing to the Sept. 27 Community Development Committee meeting.

The future of the Beltline Community Hub (formerly named the Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Centre) has been in limbo since 2019. At that time, this location, along with the Inglewood pool were slated to be closed. The city found money to extend their lives while potential other community uses were sought.

The report, done by non-government organization GAME, looked at what would have to be done to create integrated social and recreational programming at the Beltline location.

They said it would cost between $15 million and $35 million for the conversion. In addition, it would require between $750,000 and $1 million for annual programming costs.

The news comes 18 months after the announcement of the permanent closure of the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA. The Beltline Neighbourhoods Association said it’s another blow to gathering spaces in the community.

“It’s deeply disappointing that this facility is closing,” said Peter Oliver, President of the BNA.

“However, we understand The City’s reasoning and we appreciate the efforts they made over the past few years to explore extending the life of the Beltline Community Hub.”

Oliver said there are a lot of challenges with that spot – mostly due to the age of the building. It wasn’t accessible either.

“I think everyone can sort of feel good about the efforts that were made and the good faith, I think, that the city brought to the table, ultimately, really trying to work with the community,” he said.

Quick closure

The city said in the briefing that staffing challenges forced the short timeline for closure.

It said they do understand that community members may object to the facility closure.

Meanwhile, there are no plans for the building in the immediate term, the city said. It will remain in their inventory while they determine the best future use.

They will explore potential re-purposing, sale, lease or redevelopment in partnership with the private sector, the briefing read. The difficulty in subdividing, high cost of demolition and the historic designation of the attached YWCA pose challenges for its future use.

Oliver sees a silver lining in the situation, however. Not only is the city committed to ensuring public space with a $45 million investment in the Lindsay Park redevelopment, but it may open up different community opportunities for the area.

“I think we can start to extend that solution space beyond now just the walls of this old building and more towards the future needs of the community as it continues to grow very rapidly,” he said.

“That’s sort of the optimistic, ray of sunshine out of all of this.”

High priority community programs located in the space will be transitioned to alternate locations, the city said.