As our Northern communities look toward the future, there will be an even greater need for organizations that make our community stronger – from physical and mental health, to belonging and connection. This is a role that the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario is well positioned for and ready to play.
But no one organization, municipality or campaign can achieve what we need to achieve for our communities, alone. Strengthening ourselves for the future will take all of us, working together. Changing times call for unique solutions and that is the situation at our downtown YMCA in The Centre for Life – a critical heart of our downtown with several organizations working together to strengthen the current and future wellness of our community.
The Centre for Life began as a partnership between the YMCA, City of Sudbury and others over 22 years ago to rejuvenate the then declining downtown core, support economic development and provide innovative and holistic wellness support for our Sudbury community. We are proud to be part of this vital work.
And, the time has come for the original model to evolve. A number of forces including rising utility costs, aging infrastructure of the location, organizations relocating and others have come together to put unsustainable pressure on the Durham Street location, and our organization.
We’re working with the City of Greater Sudbury to protect the progress we’ve made in community health and wellness, and downtown revitalization. Specifically, we are proposing an evolution of our 22-year partnership at the Centre for Life that would see the City invest further in the ownership and utility costs of this important downtown asset, which would in turn allow the YMCA to continue to operate our valued-added facilities, programs and services.
There is a cost to this proposed investment, but a much higher cost to inaction: leaving 3200 individuals without access to health and fitness in our downtown, including the loss of a lap pool; a massive vacancy in the downtown of approximately 90,000 square feet; and the displacement of many community-serving entities, including for our senior population. That is not to mention the loss of a pivotal charity across the North that has been strengthening our health and our communities for more than 180 years, collectively.
We can’t make this change without your support. That’s why we’re calling on our YMCA members, donors and supporters to help us reimagine our facilities and how they can best create a positive collective impact for our communities.
We need your help now more than ever before – show your support today, and engage with the YMCA.
In our May 2023 update, we shared that the YMCA team has made significant progress towards our membership and tenant and partnership targets at the Centre for Life.
Our tenants and partners have helped broaden the supports offered at the Centre for Live from more traditional physical health and wellness to free mental health supports, employment supports, newcomer belonging and inclusion strategies, and child care, and they reinforce the original concept of the Centre for Life, with a shared aspiration to support holistic community health and wellness.
The Centre for Life is truly a place for Greater Sudburians to access the supports, services, and community they need to live healthy and well, together. But we can’t sustain this vision without the City of Greater Sudbury.
As such, it is important for us to remind the City of Greater Sudbury that the long-term future of the Centre for life still need us as partners to work together to find a solution. This starts with opening the partnership agreement for the Centre of Life, specifically to adjust the capital and utility split to better reflect the current space usage
That’s why we’re calling on our YMCA community – members, donors, partners, and friends – to show their support for the Centre for Life, and to encourage the City of Greater Sudbury to work with us to redevelop our partnership agreement.
We know you love the Centre for Life. And now is the time to let everyone know it!
Here’s how you can help:
- Share our story with your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Tell them how important the Centre for Life is for Greater Sudbury, and how the Centre has become a powerful engine for health, wellness, community and connection in our downtown core and beyond.
- Email or call your ward Councilor to share your support for the Centre for Life. Find the list of wards and contact information here. Create your own message or fill out this easy to use form letter, here.
- Post on social media and tag the City of Greater Sudbury on Facebook com/GreaterSudbury/with the hashtags #CentreForLife and #SayYES. You can find social graphics for use, here. Or, share our YMCA Sudbury social posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
We know that in a time of stretched resources, no one organization, municipality or campaign can achieve what we need to achieve for our communities, alone. Strengthening ourselves for the future will take all of us, working together, because changing times call for unique solutions.
Together, we can secure the future of the Centre for Life in Downtown Sudbury for many generations to come. Thank you for your support.
January 23 Update
As of January 23rd, we have hosted townhalls in Sudbury, North Bay, and virtually, and all have been well attended. We know our communities are eager to help and have offered their support.
Conversations with the City of Greater Sudbury have also been positive. We look forward to continuing these discussions over the next few weeks.
Our work to bring other agencies into the facility and build upon our synergies to deliver holistic health and wellness continues to progress and we will have more formal announcements to share with you shortly.
As some of you know, we received our first shipment of new cardio equipment on Friday, January 20th. This is thanks to a significant grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The rest of the equipment will be arriving in March.
And lastly, our membership numbers continue to grow. As of January 23rd, we are at over 3,680 members in Sudbury. We are on track to hit our goal of 5,000 members by 2027 and likely much earlier.
We look forward to sharing more updates as they become available. Thank you for your ongoing support of our YMCA.
February 9, 2023 Update
Compass / Boussole / Akii-Izhinoogan‘s Youth Wellness Hub has found its home at the Centre for Life. Through this partnership, we can continue to strengthen the health and wellness of youth in our city. The hub, set to open in spring 2023, will serve as a “one-stop-shop” for youth ages 12 – 25 to help address their needs related to mental health, substance use, primary care, education, employment, training, housing, system navigation, and other community and social services.Read more here!If you have any questions regarding ongoing work that the Y is doing in the Centre for Life, please reach out to Kendra MacIsaac, VP of Health and Wellness, at firstname.lastname@example.org.We are thrilled to share that
May 16, 2023 Update
In January, Helen Francis, our President and CEO, provided an update on the financial challenges that the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario faced. The focus was on the Sudbury YMCA located in the Downtown Sudbury Centre for Life. Four months later, we are back to provide you with an update on the progress we’ve made.
As we shared back in January, the Sudbury YMCA faced challenges related to the high facility operating costs and the ongoing reinvestment of capital required for the now over 20 year old facility. The work undertaken by the Association, including our Board and Senior Leadership Team, indicated that a viable YMCA could continue to operate in the Downtown Sudbury Centre for Life if we tackled 3 key areas:
- New Membership Growth
- New Partners and Tenants
- Revising the Condominium Agreement with the City of Greater Sudbury
We are happy to share that with the hard work of our team, we now have well over an average of 3,700 paying members per month in Sudbury. For the month of April alone, we are 18% ahead of budget in terms of the number of paying members and 12% ahead in membership revenue. This trend was supported in the past 12 months as we recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to feel positive about our membership numbers and over the next 5 years, we expect our goal of reaching 5,000 paying members in Sudbury can be reached.
New Partners and Tenants
To improve our collective impact in our community and to help offset the high facility operating costs, we have worked hard to bring in more partners and tenants in the Downtown Sudbury Centre for Life. Here, we have consciously ensured that these new partners and tenants shared the values of the YMCA and our existing partners in the building, namely the ParkSide Older Adult Centre and Health Sciences North’s Cardiac Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centre.
To that end, we are thrilled that we have continued to expand upon the original goal of the Centre for Life to be a multigenerational facility that builds on the holistic health and wellness opportunities in downtown Sudbury. We now have Beard’s Coffee Bar And Bakery, our own YMCA Employment and Immigrant Services, Summit Physiotherapy and Performance, Compass, and Future North located in the Downtown Sudbury Centre for Life. In addition, we have sublet the industrial kitchen in our YMCA Child Care Centre to a local chef and caterer. These services continue to bolster our member and participant experiences, especially bringing in more services to support teen and youth mental health and other social determinants of health.
Revising the Condominium Agreement with the City of Greater Sudbury
We have asked the City of Greater Sudbury to open the existing agreement to distribute both operating costs (such as utility and insurance costs), and well as capital costs for the Downtown Sudbury Centre for Life to be split evenly between the YMCA and the City of Greater Sudbury. This would better reflect the unit within the building, particularly when the municipal parking lot located in the basement is considered. This would also reflect that the Sudbury YMCA performs the role of the Centre for Community in the downtown core of Sudbury. The YMCA supports all community members and provides financial assistance to reduce or remove the financial barriers that may exist.
These conversations with the City of Greater Sudbury continue, and they are also thinking of creative ways they can help support the longevity of the Centre for Life while also being cost efficient. This includes whether programs they already operate or support could relocate to the Centre for Life. The role that the City of Greater Sudbury plays will be pivotal in the future of the YMCA within the Downtown Sudbury Centre for Life, and we are hopeful to hear news in early July. We will keep you up to date as progress or changes happen.
Thank you for your ongoing support. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kendra MacIsaac, VP of Health and Wellness, at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
Like most Canadian charities, the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario is experiencing financial pressures both caused and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While no one could have anticipated the pandemic or the devastating effect it would have on organizations like ours, it is our responsibility to take proactive measures that will ensure the long-term strength and sustainability of our YMCA.
We know that we are stronger together. Acting as one means more for everyone. More choice, more partnerships, more connections, more efficiency, for a stronger organization and a healthier region. That’s why we chose to amalgamate our services in Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins.
The YMCA will make program and service decisions once the future of the Centre for Life is known. We will strive to continue to deliver our vital services across the many communities we serve.
We are in communication directly with the tenants in the Centre for Life about any potential impacts of their leases and overall organizations.
As a charity, fundraising is crucial to the health of our organization; however, the operating and capital expenditures for the Centre for Life are continuing to grow at a rate that is not sustainable for our Association.
Thank you for your support of the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario. As a supporter of the Y, you know well about the impact the community experiences through the YMCA and we can’t be more grateful for your support. Your recent support through the My Y is Resilient Community Campaign enabled capital improvements in many facilities, strengthened programs, and ensured that everyone, regardless of background or financial ability, can be a part of the YMCA community. We are thankful for your support of our YMCA.