March 21, 2019 11:43 pm
Updated: March 21, 2019 11:44 pm

‘Where will the athletes go?’: Surrey Gymnastics Society looks for new home

WATCH: After more than four decades in the same spot, a Surrey gymnastics society has been given its eviction notice, and is worried about finding a new home in an expensive market. Jill Bennett reports.

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A long-running Surrey gymnastics club is losing the home it helped build decades ago, and is now in desperate search of a new gym.

The Surrey Gymnastics Society has been based inside a building behind Frank Hurt Secondary since the early 1980s, when the club’s founders helped raise the money to build it in collaboration with the school board.

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“We sold [the building] with the school board for one dollar with the understanding they could have use of the building, and then after 4 p.m. our teams and our children could come in and do gymnastics,” the society’s co-founder Marilyn Laughlin said.

READ MORE: North Vancouver gymnastics club losing home due to rec centre redevelopment

But now that an agreement, which has lasted every since, is coming to an end thanks to budget constraints and growing student enrollment in Surrey.

In an email to the society’s CEO Jocelyn Chua, a member of the Surrey School District wrote the society has until the end of June 2020 to find a new gym, citing a need to turn the existing space into an addition to Frank Hurt Secondary.

“At the conclusion of this lease, Surrey Gymnastics Society will be required to vacate the premises and to remove all of your equipment, goods, furniture, garbage and similar,” the email says. “There will be no extension to this final lease.”

WATCH: (Aired Oct. 1, 2018) Catherine Urquhart reports on a North Vancouver gymnastics club facing eviction

Chua said she was heartbroken to receive the news.

“Where would these children go, where will the athletes go after this?” she asked.

Costas Piliotis, the society’s treasurer, said he isn’t laying the blame on the district or the city.

READ MORE: North Okanagan gymnastics club gets conditional approval

“This new council has actually been good and has shown an interest in sporting organizations,” she said. “But they’re 10 years behind in their cap funding, and we’re being impacted by that neglect.”

In addition to the strains of finding a new space in an expensive market, the society said it may have to raise its fees for members if it doesn’t get financial help from either the city or the province. The club relies on fundraising drives to keep fees low, selling gift cards and gym wear and holding bottle and can drives to raise money.

The news of rising costs has long-term members nervous, including 17-year-old Treyson Cerrato, who has been coming to the gym since he was six.

“It’s been huge, it’s meant everything to me since I was a kid,” Cerrato said. “If the fees weren’t as good as they are here, there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t be in gymnastics today.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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