The Richmond Olympic Oval is embarking on a public-private partnership for yoga and it has some members steaming mad.
The Oval has decided to terminate all of its membership yoga classes in order to accommodate YYoga, a private yoga company, at the large, converted fitness facility initially built for speed skating for the 2010 Winter Games.
Member Carol Ramos said the change is unfair.
"The facility is meant to be community based and people who have Oval memberships will no longer have access to the classes. Nobody was notified of this. …Members have been in tears and many had Oval memberships for the yoga classes," wrote Ramos in an e-mail to the Richmond News.
YYoga will enter into a revenue sharing agreement for floor space at the Oval, and provide a wide-range of yoga classes for a separate fee from what Oval members are charged.
The City of Richmond subsidizes the Oval on an annual basis by about $3 million, citing it is not unlike funding any other community centre.
Membership fees far outpace those of regular community centres throughout the city, largely because the city has stated the Oval offers a wider variety of programming.
Oval marketer and spokesperson Aran Kay said YYoga can offer better yoga classes throughout the entire day. He said YYoga will have hot rooms, hot yoga classes and tea service, among other things.
In turn, the Oval will eliminate its existing yoga services, which constitute about seven classes a week that serve roughly 200 members, according to Kay.
Kay said members can be refunded the remaining value of their membership, should they choose.
He noted the programming time spent on existing yoga services would be shifted to other services such as pilates, zoomba and stretch classes.
Kay said he wasn't aware of any future initiatives in which the Oval would shift more existing services over to a private company.
After making the announcement, the Oval postponed the cancellation of classes until the end of 2015, Kay later told the News.