The Town will enter into a purchase of sale agreement with hopes of a possible reopening
Friday, July 10th, 2020 - Yarmouth, N.S. – At Thursday’s council meeting, a motion was passed unanimously to support entering a purchase of sale agreement to obtain the former YMCA facility at 275 Main Street. Through the purchase, the Town achieves the goal of securing the property in hopes of a possible reopening, while also allowing the current YMCA Board to go through an orderly closure of operations.
The announcement to permanently close the facility came from the YMCA Board of Directors on June 3rd. The closure resulted from years of financial challenges coupled with the severe impact to operations due to COVID-19. Shortly after closing, the YMCA Board approached the Town of Yarmouth to negotiate sale of the building. The Town has been a strong funder of the YMCA for decades, and expressed interest in providing increased financial help prior to the COVID-19 crisis, along with the Municipality of Argyle. Given its location and the fact that it holds the only public swimming pool in Yarmouth County, it makes sense today for the Town to take ownership of the property.
While the future goal is to build a new pool, it will be years before the community will see an aquatics facility as part of an expansion at Mariners Centre. In the meantime, finding a way to return the essential services offered by the former YMCA is crucial.
As Mayor Pam Mood sees it, the former Y could serve as a “bridge” to cross the gap to a new facility.
“We all know that a new aquatics centre is needed and that’s why the Town and sister municipalities began working toward that goal last year,” said Mood. “But we are faced with a new reality today. We all expected to have the YMCA operating until an expansion was possible, but COVID-19 changed the game. Funding for a new facility is down the road, and we can’t go without the pool and other functions provided at that building on Main Street. We need to build a bridge to get us there and the former Y could serve that purpose.”
While taking ownership is a big first step, many additional hurdles must be overcome for any possibility of a reopening. The building needs extensive repairs and upgrades that must be done before it can safely reopen. A plan for operating the facility will be required to determine staffing and programming, and a drive for memberships would be needed. On top of these obstacles, there is a significant amount of deferred maintenance, and COVID-19 still lingers as a threat to any renewed operation. Any reopening would not happen until the danger of COVID-19 is either eliminated, or safe protocols for gathering at a facility such as this are established.
“We want to see it used in a similar manner as when it was the Y – serving a wide variety of people of all ages from all over the region,” added Mood. “The YMCA served Yarmouth so well for more than 162 years, and we would love to find a way to offer similar services provided by so many dedicated staff and volunteers during that time. But there are some big hills to climb that will require hard work, fundraising and support from a variety of partners, including of course Argyle and MODY (Municipality of the District of Yarmouth). But for now, at least having possession of the building provides us with the possibility of again offering similar services there if we’re able in the near future.”
While the Town continues to work with its neighbouring municipalities on an eventual expansion at Mariners Centre, the hope is to find some consensus amongst all three units that establishing this bridge measure is important for the short term.