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Sault YMCA building for sale, all programs to close by May 15

BayToday has contacted the North Bay YMCA to see what impact this might have locally, or if a similar situation exists here. That story should appear Thursday

All services offered by Sault Ste. Marie YMCA will cease operating by May 15 at the latest, John Haddock, interim chief executive officer, tells SooToday.

"The property is listed for sale," Haddock said.

"The Sault Ste. Marie Y will close its doors on programs on May 15 at the latest. We're working with the childcare funding partners for service continuation, which would be as expected.... We're working towards that," he said.

Attempts are being made to move children enrolled at the Y Childcare at 235 McNabb St. to another childcare site with available spaces, over several weeks.

In an interview with SooToday, Haddock wouldn't discuss the issue of layoffs.

"We just need a little family time here. This is tough. Being part of the Y family, we're going to huddle."

Asked by SooToday whether refunds would be offered for unused portions of YMCA memberships, Haddock said: "We'll conduct ourselves as we should, as a good community organization."

Today's decision was blamed on high operational costs, inflation, and a slow return to pre-COVID levels of participation.

"The association... acknowledges the support received from the City of Sault Ste. Marie to date and looks forward to participating in a working group that is to be formed to explore the potential for future services," said a YMCA news release.

After almost 125 years of service to Sault Ste. Marie, the YMCA is moving to sell its main local real estate asset.

Sault Ste. Marie Y employees were advised Tuesday that the charity's landmark recreation centre at 235 McNabb St. is being listed for sale.

With no plans announced so far for a new building, the Y's future here may be uncertain.

List price for the 86,000-square-foot structure on a 3.5-acre lot will be $2,999,000.

"It is very tough to deal with on a personal level. I am a member at the facility and it has a long history in our community," says James Caicco, broker of record at Century 21 Choice Realty Inc.

"It is difficult to imagine our town without the YMCA. However, the decision has been made to sell the property," Caicco tells SooToday.

"It is difficult to predict the buyer for a property like this. There is a possibility a buyer will redevelop the land and not have a use for the structure," Caicco says.

"Also, we are not ruling out an 'angel investor' that would purchase the property and work out an arrangement for the Y to continue as a tenant. So from a marketing perspective, we are not targeting a specific buyer."

The following is the full statement issued this afternoon to YMCA members by John Haddock:

Dear friends and members of the YMCA,
We are writing today to share an update about the YMCA of Sault Ste. Marie.
As you may know, like many charities, the YMCA of Sault Ste. Marie has continued to work toward post-pandemic recovery, including critical assessments of the strengths and challenges of our organization.

Unfortunately, increased operational costs, coupled with inflation and a slow return to pre-COVID levels of participation, means that our charity is in a difficult financial position, and we are exploring options to address the challenges we face. We have engaged legal and financial advisors to assist in next steps including assessing a path forward and we have had to make some operational decisions, which we know will be difficult to hear:

  • Our McNabb Street property is for sale.
  • Unfortunately, we have had to make the extremely difficult decision that all programs will close as of Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at the latest.
  • In terms of our 8 YMCA childcare sites, we can say that our funding partners are working on a plan for continuation of service. Parents and staff will receive frequent updates.
  • With respect to the Y Childcare at 235 McNabb St., with support from our funding partner and community providers and in collaboration with parents, the children will attempt to be transferred to another childcare site with available spaces. It is expected that this transition will happen over several weeks. Parents and staff will receive frequent updates.

While we are still gathering details about next steps, we are happy to answer any questions to the best of our ability. We are committed to being as open and transparent as possible during this process. If you would like to ask questions or discuss this news, there is the opportunity for you to do that at our YMCA tomorrow (Wednesday, April 17) at McNabb Street in the playroom from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 3:00pm. I welcome your thoughts, memories and questions.

We care deeply for our staff, volunteers, members care and respect they expect and deserve.

We also want to acknowledge the support that we have received from the City of Sault Ste. Marie during this challenging time. We are happy to share that the Municipality of Sault Ste Marie and the YMCA will be forming a working group to explore the potential for future services. While we don’t know what the ultimate outcome of this effort will be, we are eager to continue to work with our municipal partners on what the future can be. 

We would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone in the community who has engaged with or contributed to the YMCA of Sault Ste. Marie. Your support has led to thousands of children, families and individuals developing a healthy spirit, mind and body and building a legacy of caring in our community. The YMCA exists purely to help make the community a better place, and it has been our honour to see the impacts of the organization in the community.

We appreciate your support and understanding as we navigate through this process.

With gratitude,
John Haddock, Interim CEO

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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