Members of the Grande Prairie climbing community turned up in droves to city hall Monday looking for either space, funding, or both to help build an indoor climbing wall in the city.
The climbing gym at Grande Prairie Regional College closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains closed at this time. Vice President of the Grande Prairie Climbing Association Kate Weber says as the only permanent climbing wall in the city is closed indefinitely, they are looking at building something that will house a growing number of local athletes who climb not only as a hobby but for sport.
“When I look at the infrastructure of the city and I see disc golf everywhere, we have all these fringe sports showing up… why not us? Climbing is an Olympic sport, we have amazing athletes in this community, and it’s cold here in the winter; we need something to do that isn’t skating or swimming. It’s a great family sport, too.”
Suggesting a few locations that may fit the bill, including the recently opened Smith recreation centre, Weber says she is confident that even if they don’t get funding, the municipality will see the positives of growing another sport in the region. She says they had as many as 300 members at one point and that number continues to climb.
“It was positive, all of the communication we’ve had in regard to this has been so positive… I think the city is ready for it, we just have to figure out the steps to get there,” she says. “For such a flat place, people love the climbing,” she laughs.
Grande Prairie city council has requested more information on the topic and a report on climbing will be presented to the appropriate committee for further debate. Building a new climbing wall, according to Weber, would cost anywhere between $250,000 and $750,000, including labour.