Members won’t let Guy-Favreau YMCA close without a fight

Click to play video: 'The fight to save Guy-Favreau YMCA continues' The fight to save Guy-Favreau YMCA continues
WATCH ABOVE: The Guy-Favreau YMCA is slated for closure at the end of May. But as Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, some of its members are fighting to keep it alive – Mar 15, 2017

The Guy-Favreau YMCA is set to close at the end of May, but a group of regulars won’t let it happen without a fight.

Just over two weeks ago, the centre informed its members they would be shutting its doors for good after providing services for nearly 30 years, due to escalating rent costs.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Chinatown YMCA to close its doors for good

At first, the federal landlords had set the rent at a symbolic $1 a year, but that all changed in 2006.

The community centre now pays around $240,000 a year.

Members are starting to mobilize to try to prevent the YMCA from closing.

On Wednesday morning, about 100 people gathered to discuss ways to save the space.

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Alexandre Vallerand has been a member for only two short months, but said the centre has already helped him in many ways.

“They find solutions for me to do my exercises, and to take a shower after my exercise, [and] help me with my socks and my boots,” he said.

Vallerand, who has cerebral palsy, said if this gym closes, he isn’t sure if he can find another one that can accommodate his needs.

“It makes no sense to close this YMCA,” he said. “I tried to find another gym and they are scared to take people like me.”

Volunteer Phil Chu, who started an online petition to save the YMCA, said Montreal Opposition leader Valerie Plante supports the fight to keep the centre open.

READ MORE: Petition launched to save Montreal’s Guy-Favreau YMCA

“They took our cause to the city council — it was unanimously passed, and now they’re taking it to the next step,” Chu said.

The next step is to appeal to the federal government — Plante has written a letter to Supply and Services Minister Judy Foote, asking her to reconsider the rent hike.

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A spokesperson for Foote told Global News discussions with the YMCA are still ongoing and they hope to have an update soon.

While they wait, members say they’re not willing to be shown the door.

“There’s going to be a protest,” said Chu. “We’re still going to work out the who, what, where, when. We want to make sure it’s 100 per cent legal…We want to make sure it’s done right.”

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