There have been rumors the Outdoor Centre was going to undergo severe changes to staffing and programs.
This past year, the Outdoor Centre founder and director of 30 years Alf Skrastins partially retired and is now in an advisory role. The new director is Kurt Kinnear. The change prompted fear the centre would be hurt by switch.
The centre provides equipment rentals for outdoor activities such as climbing, kayaking, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing as well as many other activities. It also offers numerous programs to teach people the skills needed to experience the backcountry in both winter and summer. It's the largest of its kind in Canada and offers hundreds of programs a year.
However, only minor changes to improve the level of customer service and quality of the programs are actually underway. There are to be no major changes that will damage the level of service that the centre provides. Fears of staff cuts and changes that would damage service to cust- omers were rumors dispelled by Kinnear.
"[Two] customer service staff were cut and only three program coordinators," he said.
Rental hours are being changed to provide more access to equipment for customers, and return times that are adequate for the working person, Kinnear explained.
"In April, the rental policy will become more flexible," he said.
The change will allow people to return equipment at times that are more convenient to work around renters' job commitments.
The Outdoor Centre is offering all the same programs to its customers and Kinnear noted the only changes being implemented will work to strengthen the programs.
"There will be no programs lost," said Kinnear. "Before the changes, program coordinators had to take care of their own gear. Now there is a gear supervisor that handles the majority of the equipment."
This will allow the program coordinators to focus on the quality of the programs without having full responsibility and stress about organizing equipment, he noted.
The centre will maintain the climbing and bouldering wall, the biggest rental selection in Canada and pool sessions for kayaking.
The only service not provided is a discount on rental equipment for students, but that change was made long before Kinnear came in.
"Students do not receive discounts from the centre, as it is not funded by the university," said Kinnear. "The Outdoor Centre is an independent enterprise not associated financially with the University of Calgary."