The YMCA of Eastern Ontario announced it will be closing the YMCA West location in Kingston.
The Progress Avenue location was first opened in 2014 and will officially close its doors on Aug. 16, 2019.
“It’s a loss, because there will be a loss of friendship, because some will return and some are going to go to other places,” said Darcene Carriere, who has been a member of YMCA West since it opened. She says the group there is like her family.
According to a press release from the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, the decision to close the west-end location was partly due to the competitive fitness market in the city, but this wasn’t the only deciding factor.
In the end, the regional agency said the west-end location was no longer viable as a charity.
“We’ve had about a 20 per cent drop in membership year over year,” said Rob Adams, CEO of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario. “It just turned out that we didn’t see a way out of retaining these members and building up our membership base.”
YMCA West has 1,750 members, who will be offered a 50 per cent discount to continue their memberships at the St. Lawrence College or Wright Crescent locations in Kingston.
According to the news release, the YMCA will be moving the full-time staff to the Wright location and are working to find further employment opportunities for the other staff members within the YMCA.
At the end of 2018, Kingston’s and Brockville’s YMCAs merged to create the YMCA of Eastern Ontario. The merger was meant to benefit smaller communities in between the two cities that were not able to support their own YMCA.
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“We have recently begun to offer after-school care services and summer camp programs in Gananoque, for example,” said Adams.
The closure of the YMCA West location may also not be the last. According to Adams, the YMCA is currently looking into building a larger location that would service all of Kingston.
“We know that our loyal YMCA West members will be disappointed to hear this news, however as we look toward the future, this decision brings us one step closer to building a new centrally located facility,” Adams said.
The Wright Crescent location currently has 6,000 members. If a central YMCA is agreed upon, Wright Crescent would close and would be replaced by a facility near the new Providence Manor site on Princess Street.
Despite the changes, Carriere has faith that the YMCA will come through for her and her friends in the end.
“The ‘Y’ always does work things out, because they have asked our opinions. Hopefully, everyone gets to stick together and the schedules work out for all of us.”