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Special Projects at the YMCA

Here you will find special projects that are happening at the YMCA and how you can get involved and participate!

Sudbury YMCA Warming Centre

The Sudbury YMCA, in coordination with the Parkside Centre and City of Greater Sudbury, will officially be a new location for Sudbury’s most vulnerable to retreat for meals and will provide a safe, warm and physically distanced space.

The warming centre has been operational for over two weeks, and we are able to support 20-25 individuals each night where they can access showers, clothes and more. In addition to the warming centre, the new space located in the Parkside Centre will ensure that they can also enjoy a meal in a warm and safe location with all physical distancing and safety measures in place. The location opens on Monday, December 7th at 12:00pm.

We understand that members might have questions, and so we have set up a series of FAQs available below.

If you have additional questions, please contact Kendra MacIsaac, General Manager of Health, Fitness and Aquatics by email at kendra.macisaac@ymcaneo.ca.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our local councilors asked the YMCA to consider offering a warming service for the most vulnerable in our community overnight for the winter months (November 16th through to April 30th). Having operated as a daytime warming and cooling centre earlier this year during the lockdown, the staff team had some experience in this area and the service had been well received. Aligned with our charitable purpose and values of caring and inclusion we felt the right thing to do was to temporarily step up in this way.

Health and safety is our primary concern. We have worked with our local Public Health Unit to ensure the protocols we have in place for all facets of our operation are safe. This includes PPE for staff and users, cleaning and disinfection routines, screening, and more. We specifically reviewed approaches to make sure entrance and exit points into the facility are managed to prevent additional transmission risk between populations. Capacity limits are established for each room, taking into account the square footage available, air flow/air conditioning units, and the recommendations from public health.

Prior to the provision of the overnight Warming Centre and meal service at the Parkside Centre, the visibility of vulnerable people in the downtown core has become much more visible since the pandemic hit.

This, and the combination of the opioid epidemic and the pandemic have meant that what was previously hidden is easily observable downtown.

The approach the YMCA is taking is to be supportive and inclusive of all populations, treating everyone with dignity and respect and through non-hostile approaches seeking to support the vulnerable. In addition, by providing the warming shelter and meal provision, the YMCA will have access to security guards overnight and throughout the day, in the event there are any behaviors that need to be addressed to support the safety of staff, volunteers, members and the community as a whole. In addition, SACY (Sudbury Action Centre for Youth) are providing needlestick pick up on a daily basis.

The services we are providing are to meet a need that the community has and as a facility that can provide space to allow physical distancing during the pandemic, we feel this is our responsibility. In addition, the YMCA is not making any profit off the operation of a warming centre, but some revenue received from the City will offset utility costs for the nighttime use of the centre.

The YMCA is partnering with the City of Greater Sudbury and the Parkside Centre (Older Adult Centre) to provide meals cooked by the Elgin Street Mission and the Blue Door Kitchen, to those in need throughout the winter months, until April 30th.

Unfortunately, the Mission is unable to provide the necessary space during the pandemic to accommodate people for their meals safely. The Parkside Centre is centrally located and has been vacant since the lockdown began March 17th, and has large meeting rooms the Kinsmen Room specifically that Public Health identified as well suited to meet this need. 7 days per week for lunch and evening meals, the YMCA will operate this location and allow people to have their meals in a safe, comfortable and warm location. The Parkside Centre is a city-owned unit within the Condominium of 140 Durham Street, so it also makes sense for this location to be used from a tax payers perspective.

Our tenant Health Science North and Beards have also been made aware of the operation and are supportive, recognizing the need. All parties will continue to work together to ensure the health and safety of all who use the facilities.

We have notified our members, rental groups and parents of our children in childcare. Health Sciences North have notified their clients. The feedback from all has been tremendously supportive in general and we have seen this echoed through the amount of donations, in kind and otherwise that have come forward to support the programs.

There are a few members who have indicated some concern, related to the gathering of the homeless and vulnerable, particularly within the underground parking lot. While, this is an issue that was pre-existing to our new programming and is always more visible during the winter months, it is an issue we are addressing, encouraging these people to move on to the daytime shelter at Centre de Santé.

Our membership is at about 40% of pre-pandemic levels. We are seeing approximately 250-300 members in our Durham Street facility over the course of the 13 hours that we are open, on average less than 25 members in the facility each hour, although there are more popular times mid morning and after work. The Parkside Centre (Older Adult Centre) is not open for its members and Health Science North; Cardia Pulmonary Rehab Clinic are seeing only limited number of clients daily. This means that managing capacity and traffic flow to prevent transmission is eased, due to the lower number of people in the building.

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