The City of Pointe-Claire has announced the purchase of the West Island YMCA building on Brunswick Boulevard, as well as a 10-year partnership with the YMCAs of Quebec.
The $9-million purchase was approved by YMCA’s special general assembly on July 22 and by city council members on July 27, during an extraordinary meeting.
Built in 1989, the two-storey building boasts a swimming pool, a double gymnasium, two squash courts, an indoor jogging track, a weight room, a cardio room, as well as change rooms and adjacent outdoor facilities.
The purchase is being described as a win-win by both parties.
Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere said the deal will allow the city to meet the needs of residents who have been clamouring for more services.
“Oh, there’s a lot of things. Everybody’s been asking us to have a gym. We have a very small gym now. That building has a double gym, so we can offer basketball, badminton,” he said.
Belvedere added the Aquatic Centre doesn’t have wheelchair access to the pools but it’s something that can be put in place a the Y’s facility.
“This building met our needs of our strategic plan and we were able to get it at a great location and at a price that was affordable to us, too,” he said.
New sporting facilities were deemed too expensive, according to the mayor.
“We evaluated the cost and the cost was over $24 million,” Belvedere said.
The deal also makes financial sense for the YMCAs of Quebec.
In an email to Global News, YMCA spokesperson Karine Chateauneuf detailed the financial hardships wrought province wide on the organization by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously, we had to close all of our sports facilities for many months, focusing instead on virtual and outdoor programming,” she said. “Because of that, we’ve lost close to $20 million in 2020, and we expect similar losses in 2021.”
Chateauneuf admitted that YMCA gym memberships had begun to dwindle ahead of the pandemic, but said it was a trend across the industry.
In a bid to keep community programs running, the YMCAs of Quebec sought out various partnerships.
“You know the proverb: if you want to go far, go together,” said Chateauneuf, “We work hand in hand with many boroughs and cities so it was natural to approach the City of Pointe-Claire to discuss partnership opportunities. This way we can serve the community together in a sustainable manner.”
Under the deal, the building will be operated by the City and the YMCA will rent out space.
On its website, the YMCA said programs such TeenZone, School Success programs, financial assistance, and the camp Companion program will all go on without interruption.
As for physical activities, the Y says it hopes to work with the city to develop complementary programming.
Some residents, however, wonder if the deal is really money well spent and are asking for more information.
“Well, I’m concerned in how money is being spent without citizens knowing about it,” said Andrée-Anne Guay.
One city councillor who voted against the purchase agreed.
“I haven’t been told enough to be convinced that this is a good deal for the city with respect to our usage of it,” said Brent Cowan.
He believes the public should have been given a chance to weigh in, especially considering the sums involved.
“That’s $9 million up front plus another $9 million in years to come in terms of upgrades,” he said.
There’s also another $2 million in operating costs to be considered.
The city says the building should be open to the public next spring.
— with files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter