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Letter: Local YMCA is a valuable service to our community

'In complete contrast to the statements that have appeared, the insinuation that the operation has been mismanaged is completely inaccurate and out of line'
20200316 YMCA North Bay
File photo

As a former board chair for the North Bay and current Y member, and being involved with the development of the long-term plan for the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario, I wish to comment on the current situation facing the Sudbury Y.

I feel that there is a need for clarification as to the root cause of the problem. First and foremost, the situation that the article refers to is not a new situation, but it is something that the Sudbury Y has had to deal with over a long period of time. The declining downtown, ongoing infrastructure challenges, and the impact of Covid on membership levels and participation, as well as rising costs of operating, have all had a significant impact on the operation of the Y.

In complete contrast to the statements that have appeared, the insinuation that the operation has been mismanaged is completely inaccurate and out of line. In fact, the opposite is quite true. Previous management teams and the current team have worked tirelessly to keep the facility open and functioning.

Case in point is the fact that at a time when no one would consider undertaking a major fundraising campaign, the senior management initiated such a plan and over the pre-determined time period met their target of $2 million. Restructuring, rebranding, and ongoing program and service initiatives have not only kept the doors open, but the Y team has also produced new and innovative ways of service delivery and has shown up for our community when they were needed most.

However, the key question is for how much longer will they be able to do so?

The issues identified above have reached a point where some very serious decisions have to be made. Based on the actions of the senior staff team and their efforts to keep the Sudbury Y afloat, they need to be congratulated rather than condemned!

The merger of the three Y’s (now North Bay, Sudbury and Timmins) was done based on efficiency and effective management. Elimination of duplication of staff, utilization of expertise available at each Y, and single agreements on issues such as insurance all have proven to be of benefit to both Y operations.

The Board and Staff team, by tackling this issue now and seeking solutions or a resolution to the Facility Challenges at the Sudbury Y on Durham Street, are doing what is necessary to secure the viability of the whole Association over the long term.

The staff has done an admirable job in keeping the Sudbury Y afloat and now it is time for the municipality and the citizens to step up and do what is necessary if in fact, they deem the Sudbury Y operation a valued asset to their community.

The North Bay Y has served as our communities’ community centre since its inception and as a result of the leadership the staff has provided, it continues to provide a valuable service to our community.

Membership numbers are still recovering, however, are ahead of schedule, fundraising efforts remain strong, new programs and equipment are in place, community partnerships are growing, infrastructure priorities are being addressed (new Redpath gymnasium floor in North Bay) and a new operating agreement is in place with the City of North Bay.

The problems facing the Sudbury Y are not unique but do pertain directly to that facility. The North Bay Y fortunately is not facing the same type of issues although the need for long-term capital expenditures is on the radar.

It is easy to lay blame when one does not have the facts.

The truth of the matter is that the current management team has, and continues to do, an outstanding job in keeping the operations of both Y’s viable.

As the article states, the Sudbury Y 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. It has to be a team approach and if the Sudbury Y and all of its programs are important to that community, then get on board and work with them to insure the long-term sustainability of that operation.

All of this leads to one key question. If you were to remove the services that the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario provides, can we afford to lose those services, and who would fill the void?

Dave Saad
YMCA supporter