The City of Kenora has seen the outpouring of support from the community regarding the elimination of the Recreation Centre’s Fitness Consultant, Heidi Smith. However, the city is stressing that the decision to eliminate the position did not come easily.

A fitness consultant is responsible for promoting and selling memberships to potential new members, as well as assisting gym members and clientele with training and equipment. The position was cut following the unveiling of the city’s 2019 budget, in an effort to control costs and lower tax requirements on ratepayers.

“The 2019 budget season is one of the most challenging that the city has seen since the mid-2000's,” said the community services manager for the City of Kenora, Stace Gander. “The result was a draft budget that was delivered to Council that still reflected a significant tax levy increase.”

“Senior staff met on a number of occasions to look at the budget to determine if any changes could be made to lower the tax impact to our residents without impacting city service levels. Council closely reviewed these options very carefully and had to make some difficult decisions. One of these decisions was to eliminate the Fitness Consultant position,” he added.

An anonymous petition was created shortly after the announcement. By Monday evening, the online petition had the support of 525 people.

“Heidi Smith has filled the position for many years and helped not only dedicated clients but also random recreation centre members who would stop her and ask advice,” the petition states.

“The fitness consultant position is a good use of our tax dollars, and Heidi should not have been canned. With gym memberships becoming increasingly more expensive, money should not be an issue,” the petition continued.

The city says the rec centre will continue to offer fitness services, and all group classes will proceed on a monthly basis. During this transition, staff are creating a list of personal trainers that can offer services at the facility. Customers holding personal training passes will be provided with a full refund.

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