FORT ST. JOHN -An anonymous tip to City bylaw officers led to Triumph Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness’s shutdown last week.
Owner and head coach of Triumph Tosha Mytron said the bylaw officer that came to do the inspection was shocked to find out about the decision handed down from Victoria.
What frustrates Mytron is that her gym has gone to great lengths to ensure all public health measures are followed since the beginning of the pandemic.
“That’s the thing that’s been so frustrating is that through all of this, there have been a million gray areas.”
The reason for the decision to shut her club down comes down to wording on her business license. Because her license says “Martial Arts School” and martial arts are to be suspended, the club was forced to shut down immediately according to the public health order.
“Directly underneath it, it says Martial Arts and Fitness. I’m a fitness facility; I can prove that I’ve been doing fitness forever.”
Mytron explained that the club had offered more programming than just martial arts. Like many small businesses faced with the economic impact of Covid-19, she needed to adapt and pivot her programming to abide by provincial health regulations.
“We are more fitness focused. But in addition to that, we have fitness classes on the schedule that have nothing to do with combat sports.”
Unfortunately, she says, the compassion and care the local bylaw officer brought to the investigation was not matched when the file fell on a desk in Victoria.
“She didn’t even answer any of [the bylaw officer’s] questions. She didn’t even mention any of the points that the bylaw officer had given her. She simply said, [it] is in the category, shut her down.”
Adding to her frustration were last spring’s events when it was “recommended” that fitness facilities and recreation facilities shut down.
“I had to close for three months, and I lost 55 per cent of my membership. I was almost not able to continue with my business when it was time to reopen.
“I volunteered for the closure of my business while under the impression I had no choice. When I was trying to get information on reopening, I was told ‘you were never told you had to close down, we just recommended that you did.”
There is hope for Mytron in the form of an application for exemption. She was led to believe there was a form to be filled out.
After 30 minutes on the phone yesterday, she learned that there is no such form, and that she would require a health officer come and do an investigation.
Where is the nearest health officer in Fort St. John? There isn’t one.
“They’ve shut me down, and I can only reopen once I get the inspection from a person that doesn’t even exist in my region.”
The nearest health officer is located in Dawson Creek, meaning that Mytron has to stay closed until a health inspector comes to do a report. That health inspector will forward the report to the office of provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
One thing Mytron is complimentary of during this frustrating time is the effort showed by the local bylaw office.
“That shows me that the City is standing behind its city, and its people, and that’s good. But at the end of the day, they only have so much control and so much say, so we have to make a point of exposing this hole in the system.”
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