Last week, some Thorold residents voiced their displeasure online over the newly announced public hours of the Haj-Ahmad Family Foundation running track at the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre.
Residents can freely use the track on the weekend, but during the week they are only allowed on between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. During all other time slots, the track can only be used by permitted users such as sports clubs.
The regional director of marketing for the Canada Games Park, Kay Meilleur, says a lot of thought went into the schedule, despite what some critics have said.
“It’s definitely a juggling act,” Meilleur says, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “We’re doing our best to find the balance so we can satisfy everyone’s needs. You can never please everybody but we’re doing our best.”
The Walker Sports and Abilities Centre in the Canada Games Park is managed by ASM Global. They decided on the new hours after observing the community’s usage over the last few months.
“We’ve been monitoring it and there are maybe four or five people who go after work,” says Meilleur. “We do find it is packed in there over the weekend. What we’re seeing is that the community is using it then because their kids are playing sports so it all makes sense to open it up to the community during those times.”
One of the difficulties with scheduling is that there are different types of runners using the track.
“Not all running is created equal,” Meilleur says. “The problem with having multiple user groups on the same running track at the same time is that there is going to be an accident. Our goal is to make sure that everyone is safe and feels safe.”
That is why permitted users, such as running clubs, have exclusive access to the track Monday to Thursday, between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.
During public hours, the running track has lanes for medium speed running and lanes for slower walkers. High-speed running is not allowed.
“It’s definitely a big mix of people on the track and when you mix in some high performance runners it gets tricky,” says Meilleur. “If someone seems to be a bit too much we’ll just ask them: ‘We have a lot of seniors at this time, can you maybe slow your speed or just be careful?’ We see a lot of things up there in a short amount of time.”
If users don’t feel safe walking on the track they can also walk around the lower level of the building, says Meilleur.
“While it’s not a track we have a complete lap you can do on the main floor of the venue,” she says. “If people can still come during those hours we invite them to walk all the way around the gymnasium, all around the offices. It gets people out of the cold and inside.”
At the end of the day, ASM Global is trying to do right by everyone.
“We’re really trying our best to find that balance and we feel that we are close,” Meilleur says. “We feel like we’re getting there. We’re always open to suggestions.”
The Haj-Ahmad Family Foundation running track is open to the public between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday to Sunday.