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Still working out the bugs at WMC

In operation for more than six months now, the Woolwich Memorial Centre is still experiencing growing pains. Despite lingering problems with the quality of ice and a range of other deficiencies, the township’s director of recreation and facilities remains optimistic the mechanical issues will be worked out.

Larry Devitt said he expected there would be bugs in a project as large as the $23-million, 113,000-square-foot complex. Staff continues to work with the general contractor and a variety of subcontractors to get the building on track.

“I believe they are making strides to get things improved. I think a lot of progress has been made.”
However, soft ice and the upper-level concession area where a large rollup door is still not in service, for example, make the deficiencies highly visible.

David Brenneman, Woolwich’s chief administrative officer, noted that problems persist. Even though expected, the issues come to the public’s attention and need to be addressed in that light.
“We’re still working through a whole list of things,” he admitted, adding each will be addressed.
While mechanical difficulties will be worked through with contractors, the operations side – staffing, scheduling and programming, for instance – is strictly a township concern. That too is in flux.

For Devitt, the WMC will have to go through an entire year before those issues can be assessed properly.

That also applies to the fitness centre housed at the WMC. Rather than rent the space for guaranteed revenue, the township opted to have more control by paying an outside firm to manage the 2,300-sq.-ft. centre. Woolwich is now perhaps half way to reaching the break-even point on that agreement, having sold about 150 memberships. With membership fees set at $480 per year, the target is 300 to 325. Those numbers are needed to pay for the $132,000 contract council awarded to Personal Best Health and Performance Inc. of Caledon.

The company is being paid $11,000 a month to manage and staff the operation. Under the contract, the company provides a full-time fitness manager, part-time staff to cover weekday mornings and evenings and weekend hours, plus group instructors.

Devitt said that deal was chosen because it gave the township control over the programs offered from the fitness centre. Program registration continues to grow, which should help with membership numbers, he added.

“The program that is being provided is helping us achieve our goals.”

There’s been no leveling off – “more people are signing up every day” – so he remains optimistic even as he notes more memberships are required.

“We’ve got a ways to go to get to our target numbers. This is going to take some time to fully develop.”

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