Service provider selected for WMC fitness centre

A holistic approach to the health and wellness of residents won the day as the township selected a service provider to staff the fitness centre at the soon-to-be-opened Woolwich Memorial Centre.

The bid by Personal Best Health and Performance Inc. of Caledon was selected from among five responses to the township’s request for proposals to operate the 2,300-square-foot facility inside the WMC, slated to open in September.

Although somewhat hesitant, councillors meeting this week backed the recreation department’s plan to negotiate a formal agreement with Personal Best Health.

The choice essentially boiled down to proposals from two final candidates. The first, from Elmira’s Pinnacle Health & Fitness, was essentially a rental agreement for the space. The second gave the township more control over the operation, broadening its scope to include outreach to all communities in the township, said director of recreation and facilities Larry Devitt.

With the Personal Best proposal, the township will retain control over the programming, which essentially becomes an extension of the recreation department, he explained.

“It’s an all-encompassing approach to fitness and wellness.”

The preferred option, however, comes with more risk. The township will be responsible for staffing costs, promoting fitness programs and equipping the centre. Under the rental proposal, Woolwich would receive about $18,000 a year, with the proponent looking after the entire operation.

“We wanted to be in control, to run the programs … so this [Personal Best proposal] was the way to go,” he said.

At worst, the preferred option would be revenue neutral, but should generate some income for the township, he added.

The financial risk troubled Coun. Mark Bauman, who questioned the many unknown quantities of the Personal Best deal.

His concerns were echoed by Coun. Murray Martin, who suggested a straight rental agreement would provide less risk, allowing the township time to gauge the public response to the fitness centre.

Councillors ultimately decided to follow staff’s recommendations, however.

Along with giving the township control over operations, the major selling feature of the Personal Best proposal was the plan to provide community outreach program, Devitt said in an interview later. Wellness education will be extended to all the communities, with programs likely to be offered at sites such as the new Maryhill community centre and a similar facility to be built in Breslau.

“It’s important to know that this isn’t just for Elmira. This is very much a Woolwich facility.”

Currently, the department is looking to have the fitness centre opened and staffed while the Woolwich Memorial Centre is open, though hours for individual facilities – arenas, pool, seniors’ centre – have yet to be established. The plan is to have the WMC open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Equipping the fitness centre is expected to run about $125,000. A Trillium Foundation grant of $52,000 will cover part of the cost, with the remainder to come from the budget for the $23 million WMC project.

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