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Sudbury YMCA in financial jeopardy, seeks new deal with city

Email sent out to YMCA members this week said the downtown Centre for Life and its programs are facing ‘unsustainable pressure’ from rising costs, and it’s proposing to evolve partnership with city for increased ownership stake
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The YMCA of Northeastern Ontario Centre for Life on Durham Street in downtown Sudbury.

Sudbury's YMCA, one of the key providers of fitness facilities and several other social programs in Greater Sudbury said this week it’s large facility downtown -- the Centre for Life -- and the programs housed there are in jeopardy. 

The email to YMCA members said the building and programs, which began 22 years ago, need to "evolve" and the cost could be substantial. It said the current Durham Street operation is under "unsustainable pressure" as is the organization in the community. 

"The Centre for Life began as a partnership between the YMCA, City of Sudbury and others over 22 years ago to rejuvenate the then declining downtown core, support economic development and provide innovative and holistic wellness support for our Sudbury community. We are proud to be part of this vital work," said the email.

"And, the time has come for the original model to evolve. A number of forces including rising utility costs, aging infrastructure of the location, organizations relocating and others have come together to put unsustainable pressure on the Durham Street location, and our organization.”

The YMCA message said the organization is working with the City of Greater Sudbury to "protect the progress" the YMCA has made in terms of community health, wellness and overall downtown revitalization. 

The email message suggested this might mean some sort of a bailout from city hall.

"Specifically, we are proposing an evolution of our 22-year partnership at the Centre for Life that would see the city invest further in the ownership and utility costs of this important downtown asset, which would in turn allow the YMCA to continue to operate our valued-added facilities, programs and services," said the message.

The email also stated that while there would be a cost to keeping the operation alive, the cost of doing nothing would be much higher.

The YMCA said inaction at this point would be "leaving 3,200 individuals without access to health and fitness in our downtown, including the loss of a lap pool; a massive vacancy in the downtown of approximately 90,000 square feet; and the displacement of many community-serving entities, including for our senior population. That is not to mention the loss of a pivotal charity across the North that has been strengthening our health and our communities for more than 180 years, collectively."

The YMCA said it plans to host a couple of town hall-style meetings, both in person and online, today and next week to gather input from the membership and to share more information.  

The meeting details are as follows:

  • Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. - Sudbury, Centre for Life
  • Jan. 17, 10 a.m. - Virtual

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for Sudbury.com.


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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