With UVic’s Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) turning into a long slew of disappointments, there was one thing that had kept me at least marginally excited about the whole project. At the end of it all, we would have a climbing wall here on campus. This addition to our school might have made the whole project worthwhile—that is, until I saw how much it was going to cost.
Membership passes for one semester will start at $100, which might be almost reasonable, only the basic membership does not include access to the climbing wall. With the Vikes All-In Pass, which includes the wall, the price jumps to a staggering $175 for a one-semester pass. So, for someone to use the climbing wall for two semesters it will cost $300 before taxes. For justification of this steep fee, the CARSA FAQ website states that, “Some people who want a fitness and weight centre pass might not want to use the climbing facilities.”
The FAQ also says that the new fees to CARSA are a “similar arrangement to the current access at the Ian Stewart Complex fitness and weight centre.” However, this seems similar only in that you only had to pay $55 for a semester pass before where you will pay $100 for a basic weight room pass at CARSA. I don’t know if you can sense the irony here, but I fail to see how these two scenarios are all that alike—unless you count the fact that neither of them grants you access to a climbing wall.
Fortunately, for now, McKinnon will stay open so those who could not afford an Ian Stewart pass before still have a free weight room to go to. What still seems absent to me, however, is the fact that there is not a plan that just grants you access to the climbing wall, save for a day pass that sets you back $10 per climb.
Now, it may be a self-centred statement of bigotry, but I have to wonder who the hell would not want the use the climbing wall? I know I can’t speak for everyone when I say this, but I know I’m not alone. This is literally the only part of this building I planned on visiting. Yet as a student, this showcase for our school has now become an unjustifiable luxury.
But I really don’t mean to ignore the positive sides of the project. I know that the CanAssist program does good work and I desperately hope that CARSA will help it do just that. My only fear is that the CanAssist side will become secondary to UVic’s apparent attempt to remodel itself as a sports school.
Regardless, the CARSA FAQ justifies its prices by saying, “Optional fees for all user groups have increased due to the costs of construction and equipping this brand new facility. While these costs were partially offset by corporate and donor support, parkade and food services revenue, as well as university funds, an increase to optional fees was required.” So, because the project went over budget, it is up to the current student body to foot the bill even though almost none of them were the ones who voted to build CARSA in the first place, and few of them will be able to afford access to a climbing wall.
The promise of a climbing wall, dubbed the Peninsula Co-op Climbing Centre, was enough to keep me, and the little-boy Spider-Man enthusiast in me, excited about the eventual opening of the building. The lack of pool, the smaller-than–promised parking garage, the waiting, the waiting, and the waiting, all might have been justified in the end with an affordable and easily accessible climbing gym close to home. But nope. This will have to be chalked up to another disappointment on the CARSA scoreboard.