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Sportsplex vying for Tbaytel dollars


The Fort Frances Wellness Committee recently has been lobbying for upgrades to the fitness facility at the Memorial Sports Centre here and now it’s seeking funding through the “Tbaytel for Good” competition.

“We’re trying to promote health and wellness in the community but the facility needs an update,” said Ian McKay, a local personal trainer who sits on the committee.

He noted there hasn’t been a significant update since the initial build more than a quarter-century ago.

“We are looking to update our whole fitness facility—the pool, squash court, and weight/cardio rooms,” McKay remarked.

“After 25 years of age, it is past due both for safety and appearance.”

McKay warned there are dangers that come with the age of such equipment.

“We are looking to replace our aged and dangerous equipment to safe and effective use for every person who enters the Memorial Sportsplex,” he said.

“We will also be looking to restore the appearance and inviting environment of the facility by repainting and cleaning,” he added.

McKay noted the group voiced its concerns to town council during a public budget meeting last month.

“Council and the staff at the Memorial Sportsplex have been very willing to hear these things,” he said, indicating some improvements already have been visible, such as new dumbbells and benches being secured.

But McKay thought additional funds certainly would help to make even more improvements to the facility.

When he heard a friend of his from Thunder Bay had submitted an idea to “Tbaytel for Good,” he knew it was something the Fort Frances Wellness Committee should do, as well.

The “Tbaytel for Good” competition is a sponsorship program aimed at strengthening communities.

The competition is held several times throughout the year—each with a different focus.

The current campaign is for health and wellness.

“It fits perfectly for what we are trying to do,” McKay stressed.

Last winter in a “Tbaytel for Good” campaign focused on sports, the local Border Figure Skating Club won the $5,000 grand prize to replace its aging music systems at the Memorial Sports Centre.

Then this past spring, the local “I Am Awesome! (And I Know It!)” self-esteem and empowerment retreat for young women took the $10,000 grand prize that focused on youth.

“[Our] community has proven they can do this so why not do it one more time,” McKay reasoned.

“We’re not asking for money—just for a minute each day to vote.”

Submissions can be accepted until Nov. 9, with voting running from now until Nov. 30.

So far, the Fort Frances Wellness Committee’s submission is one of just nine ideas submitted.

On Dec. 3, the three ideas with the top votes will advance to the semi-finals, with the grand prize winner being announced Dec. 10.

“There is almost 1,000 views on the submission but only a couple hundred votes,” McKay noted, adding there are submissions that already have more than 1,000 votes.

“People are having a hard time voting,” he conceded, noting some trying to vote on their submission have been experiencing difficulty.

“But most people are at a computer once during the day so just take that time to vote,” he urged.

“If we could get 1,000 people to vote daily, we’d have it.”

McKay said the committee also has applied for a number of grants but this is some funding they could earn with the help of the community.

“It’s not about the weight room,” he stressed. “That’s just something that’s been neglected.

“It’s about updating a community space.”

McKay suggested that whether or not someone has a membership at the Memorial Sports Centre, they probably have had a member of their family use the facility at some point.

“Whether it’s swimming lessons as a kid or activities for adults,” he remarked. “Or if you just want to try something new.

“We want to create an environment that is welcoming for you,” he said.

“This isn’t for the members right now, it’s for everyone up and coming.”

McKay indicated Fort Frances has an aging community with limited space for health and wellness.

“The pool is a low-impact form of exercise to the aging community in a town lacking health-care providers,” he said.

“We would like to establish a safe environment for everyone.”

McKay also stressed seeking the funding from the “Tbaytel for Good” competition is not about creating competition with other businesses.

“This is the hub of our community in sports and recreation, and deserves to be kept [up] and respected,” he reasoned.

“We want to live the ‘boundless’ idea, and in turn, we need to shed the idea of ‘good enough.’

“We have had may great athletes shine at the Memorial Sports Centre—Dennis Mounk, Shanny Jackson, and Brock Madill—to name a few body-builders,” McKay added.

“We have swimmers, squash players at national levels, and hockey players all across Canada from here fighting their way to the top and they used this facility to assist them in getting there,” he noted.

“Our overall goal is for anyone to walk in, feel comfortable and willing to accept who they are, and embrace the work on who they wish to become and feel supported in that.

To vote for the submission, visit

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