Questions of unfair competition have been raised by the downtown exercise facility Rip’N Ronnie’s Fitness regarding a lease of town property by Gun It Crossfit.
A letter from Rip’N Ronnie’s to the town was presented to town council Tuesday, Aug. 11 during a public meeting in which owners, Sheldon and Jenny Ronnie questioned improvements to Gun It Crossfit’s lease at the back room of the Aquaplex.
Co-owner Jenny Ronnie said their issue is not about having competition in town but questioned whether town policies take into account the ramifications if businesses lease a town-owned space.
“The concern is that it’s a lease with a town property in a public facility,” said Mrs. Ronnie.
The town confirmed that leasing the space costs $750 per month plus utilities for Gun It Crossfit and rental agreements do not include paying property taxes, fully or partially.
Another question from Mrs. Ronnie was whether improvements to the room such as installing lockers were part of the package.
“Obviously, with all these expenses taken care of, and maybe thanks partially to our taxes, it’s clear that we are not on a level playing field,” states the letter to the town.
“What is the standard lease rate of town property for private businesses? There are a lot of empty privately owned commercial buildings sitting around town with the average rate of leasing ranging from $8.50 per square foot to $15 per square foot,” continues the letter.
CAO Rachel Kunz said at council’s meeting that the lease for Gun It Crossfit would expire in June, 2016. She added the leaseholders believe the renovations at the room were part of the lease agreement but said they were wrong in that regard.
Coun. Carla Prediger suggested it appeared there were some additions in those renovations to accommodate Gun It Crossfit.
Kunz added a policy is being put together to address the question of businesses renting town property. “The policy will be done before that (end of the lease).”
Prediger added that council asked administration to provide a draft policy on leasing town properties seven months ago after changes were made to the Ponoka Chamber lease and Bob Hepp Catering, which was operating out of the Kinsmen Community Centre.
Prediger wondered when the draft policy would be complete. “We have questions from our constituents on what we are doing and we still have now response.”
“It’s very difficult to speak to decisions when there’s no policy,” she added.
Kunz replied the town expects a draft to be presented to council this fall.
Gun It Crossfit’s owner declined to comment stating the letter is directed to the town and not to their business.