The North Valley Gymnastics Club has found a new home in Vernon almost one year after their facility went up in flames.
The club’s training facility on 31st Street was destroyed by a massive fire, deemed suspicious, on Oct. 31, 2021.
The fire displaced more than 500 members at the club, but Kelowna gyms stepped in to house the club’s competitive team, and the Vernon School District came through with an offer for the club to use the vacant Whitevale Elementary School gym in Lumby.
Now, close to the one year anniversary of the fire, board member Melissa Locke says the club has secured a long-term lease for a building at The Vaults development on 45th Avenue, behind the Prestige Hotel in the north end of Vernon.
Locke says work on the building has already started, and it’s expected to be ready by the spring of 2023. At that point, the club will be getting its equipment together before members can move in shortly after the building’s completion.
“It’s the good news and the light at the end of the tunnel that everybody needed,” Locke said.
The insurance payout covered the club’s lost equipment but it wasn’t enough to rebuild the old building, which Locke says was largely due to increases in the cost of shipping and “absolutely everything” else during the COVID-19 pandemic. The club will sell its 31st Street property and pay off its mortgage.
The new building is built to suit, as the builders are working with the board to construct a facility that will fit the needs of the club from the beginning.
Locke thanked the Vernon School District for answering the club’s plea for a space in offering up the Whitevale gym, which the club will continue to use over the coming months until the new building is ready.
“That actually came from a Hail Mary post I posted on the gym page,” Locke said. “Somehow it got to the school board and they discussed it and then they came to us and offered it. It was amazing, absolutely amazing. Community working together, that’s what it’s all about.”
She also thanked the community, which has been “such a big support.”
“They’ve always been behind us no matter where we were at with fundraising for the new gym in the first place and then fundraising after it burnt down,” she said. “It really does take good community backing to run a not-for-profit organization like this.”