Salmon Arm Council has asked city staff to prepare a report stemming from a request to provide a special licence to yoga and exercise trainers wishing to use city parks. (File photo)

Salmon Arm Council investigates stretching city park uses to include yoga, exercise classes

Yoga instructor suggests considering a special business licence and booking system for parks

Soccer and baseball teams book times to use Salmon Arm parks, but should yoga and fitness teachers who wish to move outdoors be part of a similar system?

City council will be considering this question in response to a letter from Brandi Stiles, owner of Galeria Estima, a small fitness and yoga studio in Westgate Public Market.

Stiles proposed that a special licence be created, similar to a business licence, that health and fitness trainers could purchase to give them access to city parks for operating their sessions.

“Having lived in London, England for many years and operating as a Personal Fitness Trainer, I witnessed firsthand how these regulations benefitted the vibrancy of parks and other public spaces when such activities were allowed to operate in those healthy, natural environments. Further, the annual fee to the Borough of London was a source of civic income and provided health and fitness professionals a license to train clients in specific parks,” she wrote.

Stiles suggested that a booking system could possibly be used to ensure such teaching doesn’t interfere with youth sports or other activities.

“Salmon Arm has only a small number of trainers or yoga teachers that may want to utilise this initiative,” she wrote, “but we would love to be able to diversify our offerings and create a unique aspect to our businesses. The visual of citizens out in the community engaging in healthy activities not only reflects well on the city, but may also inspire others to partake in healthy pastimes.

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Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond made a motion at council’s April 27 meeting that city staff report back to council regarding the proposed holding of exercise classes in parks. She said it’s an interesting idea, but one that the city would have to do properly.

Council discussed the letter, with Coun. Tim Lavery mentioning the similarity to the city’s food truck policy.

“When you start to look at it you get into all sorts of other implications you have to get your head around. But guess what? We actually have come up with a food truck policy.”

He said issues such as liability and booking would need to be considered, as well as gathering input from similar businesses which have “bricks and mortar” studios.

The majority of council, except Coun. Chad Eliason, voted in support of the motion to have staff investigate the idea.

“It seems like there may be a ton of logistical problems with it of who, what, where, when…,” Eliason said.

He gave an example that might take place during coronavirus restrictions.

“I want to go kick a soccer ball with my friend and I can have a paid exercise class next to the skateboard park that is shut down… It seems kind of complex and, personally, I think people should just go do it.”
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