By: Shauna Turnley

Some students at Red River College Polytechnic are frustrated after the College included another $22 recreation fee in this semester’s tuition, while the Exchange District Campus (EDC) gym remains closed.

Roughly 2,000 full-time students and many part-time students have had to cough up the extra coin in the 2021/2022 school year, though the gym has been locked since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Near the top of the list of students’ questions is where the money is going.

Laureen Janzen, director of Student Support Services at RRC Polytech, said the fee goes into a pot that is contributed by RRC Polytech students, the College, and the Red River College Students’ Association.

“If it’s $44,000 coming from EDC we don’t necessarily put exactly $44,000 in EDC,” she said.

Janzen said the recreation fee is attached to the Campus Well-Being Unit, announced in January, and the fitness facilities.

The College was unable to share what the 2022/2023 budget would be for the new wellness initiative.

The RRC Polytech Exchange District Campus fitness facilities remain closed going into the third year of the pandemic./SHAUNA TURNLEY 

But the idea that the gym is closed is puzzling for many, especially at a time when mental health is at the forefront of issues surrounding online learning.

Yujin Lee, a Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic student living in campus residence, said he relies on the school fitness centres staying open as they are cheaper and more convenient options than other gyms.

“Some of us rely on the gym to take out stress when all our classes are online,” said Lee. “I see that they are trying, but they could be better.”

Manitoba Public Health announced gyms and fitness facilities could re-open as of June 26, 2021, and currently mandates allow fitness facilities to operate at 50 per cent capacity. 

 Janzen says the College needs to confirm additional gym clerks before opening its doors.

Mario De Negri, a fitness coordinator at RRC Polytech for 12 years, said he was the only on-site staff member for a maximum capacity gym prior to the pandemic.

Janzen said the College will be announcing a re-opening date for the EDC fitness centre next week and their goal is to re-open by Feb. 14, 2022.

The EDC fitness centre is the only post-secondary gym in Winnipeg that is still closed.