November 8, 2016
PRINCE RUPERT – The City of Prince Rupert’s Recreation Complex today celebrated a newly-refinished playing surface for the Russell Gamble Gymnasium. The project was completed at a cost of $74,000 through funding provided by partners including the Port of Prince Rupert, Northern Development Initiative Trust, and the City of Prince Rupert.
The floor’s commissioning took place at the Gymnasium today with a pick-up game of basketball between local participants in the All-Native Basketball Tournament, and members of the Charles Hays Rainmakers, as well as an appearance from representatives from the City and local funders.
“One of the highest priorities of the Port’s Community Investment Fund is to ensure that the trade conducted here contributes to the growth and health of residents,” said Don Krusel, President & CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, which contributed $28,000 to the project. “Therefore we are proud to help enhance the Civic Centre’s role as a facility vital to Prince Rupert’s athletic competitions, meetings, and celebrations.”
Northern Development Initiative Trust provided $15,000 in funding through the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program.
“Multi-purpose facilities like the Russell Gamble Gymnasium are important to our local communities as they provide wonderful recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. This enhancement project also allows Prince Rupert the opportunity to attract large scale sporting and other events to our region that increases tourism revenue, supports the local economy and contributes to building a stronger north,” said Evan Saugstad Chair of Northern Development Initiative Trust.
“The City is grateful to our partners for helping us to renew one of the most used recreation spaces in Prince Rupert. We are looking forward to seeing the new floor put to use at this year’s All Native Tournament,” said Mayor Lee Brain.
The Russell Gamble Gymnasium had not seen significant improvements since the construction of the recreation facility in 1971, and had been identified by the City as a much-needed area for upgrade. The original wood was sanded and refinished, and the lighting system was upgraded to energy-efficient LEDs. Additionally, an image of the City Crest was placed at centre court, and court lines were painted according to a colour scheme that pays respect to traditional Coast Ts’msyen colours of red, white and black.
With the space now refinished, Director of Recreation and Community Services Willa Thorpe anticipates increased opportunities for hosting competitions in the facility.
“Investing in updates like the Russell Gamble Gymnasium gives Rupertites a renewed sense of pride in their local facilities, as well as the opportunity to bolster our bids for a variety of provincial-level events,” said Thorpe.
The Russell Gamble Gymnasium is named for Russell Gamble, hereditary Chief He’l of Gitxaala, inductee into the BC Basketball Hall of Fame and a long time dedicated volunteer organizer for the All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert. In 1959, Gamble and others laid plans to revive an earlier version of the tournament that ran from 1947-1953, with the first All Native tournament taking place March 2nd, 1960. His involvement has been vital in making the tournament a continued success, bringing First Nations people to Prince Rupert from all up and down the West Coast. The Gymnasium was dedicated in his honour in 2007.
The Gymnasium is one of many improvements made to the Recreation Complex over the past year, including the repainting of the main entrance of the Complex, the installation of a new steam sauna and replacement of the dry sauna at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre, updated equipment in the Fitness Centre, as well as the implementation of a new online registration option for recreation programming via recreation.princerupert.ca.
City of Prince Rupert
250-627-0976 ext. 276
Manager, Corporate Communications
Port of Prince Rupert