Strangway Centre earmarked for gym expansion project

The Strangway Centre on East Street. Journal Photo

Troy Shantz

Funding for a new gymnasium at the Strangway Centre couldn’t have come at a better time for Sarnia’s aging but active adults, a spokesperson says.

“When the Centre was built 33 years ago it was more of a card club (with) more sedentary activities. Well, that’s completely changed,” said recreation superintendent Shelley Kern.

“We’re heavier into fitness, we’re heavier into sports, we’re heavier into special events.

“When this pandemic is over with there will be more of a demand for that type of thing.”

The federal and provincial governments have approved more than $2.6 million to build a larger gym at the city-run recreation centre on East Street.

Sarnia must agree to contribute at least $952,000. A decision on funding will be considered with other capital project this fall, said Stacey Forfar, Sarnia’s manager of community services.

The Strangway Centre is open to all adults 20 and older and memberships are available to those 55-plus. Currently, only outdoor programs are operating.

Prior to the pandemic, the facility hosted exercise classes as well as art, music and language courses, day trips, how-to classes and some recreational sports. It also operates a woodworking shop and café.

The facility has a large multipurpose room but no space for court sports like basketball and badminton, Kern said.

Ideally, the addition would be at least 30-by-21 metres, or big enough for one adult basketball court, she said. Such a room could also be used for large public events or markets.

The goal is to provide more indoor options during winter months, Kern added.

“Pickleball is a really good example. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in North America right now but we don’t have the adequate facilities for it.”

More detailed design work is needed. If the project is approved a shovel likely wouldn’t go in the ground until 2023, Forfar said.

The Strangway gym was one of three projects in Sarnia and one of 35 across the province approved for senior government funding last month.

More than $1.4 million is earmarked for a new Jackson Pool and $2 million for renovations to the Jerry McCaw Family Centre YMCA.