The Abbey Centre is officially open for business.
Blackfalds’ newest recreational facility, the long-awaited Abbey Centre, opened its doors on March 31. Now well into its second week of operation, business is booming, officials said.
“It’s a zoo,” said Sean Barnes, director of community services for the Town of Blackfalds. “We didn’t expect it to be this busy.”
He added staff at the Abbey Centre and administration at the Town of Blackfalds knew the public were eager to begin using the facility, but even they were surprised at how well the facility is being utilized already. With 417 people signed up for full membership within the first week, Rick Kreklewich, manager of the Abbey Centre, said that is more than double the early estimates for membership sales.
For the Abbey Centre to prove so popular so early in its life shows just how needed this facility was in Blackfalds, said Barnes.
“I just can’t believe how busy this facility is,” said Barnes. “Last Friday night we had 40 people in the fitness centre, we had 40-50 kids in the gym, we had I don’t know how many kids in the playground – it was packed. This was a dire need for the community.”
Over the weekend the Blackfalds information fair was held at the Abbey Centre as the first event since the centre officially opened. Kreklewich said organizers of the event were also impressed with the new facility.
So far, the indoor playground and fitness centre are among the most popular features of the Abbey Centre, said Kreklewich.
“I think a lot of people just like the sheer size of it and kids are enjoying it,” said Kreklewich. “And the fitness centre, I think a lot of people are blown away by the size and the quality of the equipment.”
Kreklewich also said that staff have received positive comments on the hours of operation for the facility and are continuing to receive feedback. While most of the feedback has been positive thus far, Barnes said some complaints and criticisms have been received and Town of Blackfalds administration as well as Abbey Centre staff are reviewing and revising policies as necessary. He also asked people to be patient as any issues are dealt with.
“There are going to be some growing pains,” said Barnes.
One of the most common complaints heard relates to the pool which is slated to be operational by the facility’s grand opening on May 23. Barnes said many people would like the pool to be enclosed so that it could be used year-round. Barnes said this simply is not fiscally possible at this time, however, the facility was designed so that the Abbey Centre could be expanded overtop of the pool to make it an indoor pool at some point in the future.
In addition to the Abbey Centre features already operational, excitement is building for features that are to come in the spring and summer of this year, said Kreklewich.
These include the outdoor playground, outdoor fitness equipment to be installed in the spring and the amphitheatre, construction of which is to begin this July. And of course, the opening of the aforementioned pool.
The Abbey Centre also has a number of fitness classes and programs, like Zumba, yoga and spin class to name a few, which have been popular so far, said Kreklewich.
He added that come summertime when the pool is open other programs, like aquafit and swimming lessons, will become available as well.