YMCA to operate the Northside Community Centre

The facility is set to be completed by May of 2019

The YMCA will again have a presence in Red Deer following an agreement with the City that will see the organization lease and run the Northside Community Centre.

“This is great news for Red Deer as we official welcome the YMCA back to our community,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

In 2015, council approved capital funding to construct a new community centre in the northwest quadrant of Red Deer.

“The YMCA has a long, proud history of building and strengthening the communities they serve, and we look forward to working with them to realize the positive benefits of this partnership for our citizens.

“There are also many partnerships that the municipality has engaged in with other not-for-profits and other organizations that have brought us to the community that we are today,” she said.

Construction on the facility should be wrapped up by spring of 2019.

“The YMCA approached us earlier this year about establishing a presence in the community,” said Shelley Gagnon, recreation, parks and culture manager, adding that crews broke ground on the Centre this past May.

“The YMCA had a presence in the City for many years from the 1960s to the early 90s,” said Gagnon.

“The Centre was designed to provide flexible and multi-functional spaces where users can access a range of services in the areas of art programming, leisure activities, spontaneous use, meeting spaces, diverse learning opportunities and recreational programming.”

Gagnon said the operational agreement includes one-time funding in 2019 of $280,657 and ongoing funding of $48,040.

Ongoing funds of $425,020 will also be handed down in 2020.

Council was told that whether it is City-run or YMCA-run, revenues and expenses would be similar.

The facility is expected to be open around July 1st, 2019.

Ultimately, the lease agreement will initially be a five-year term.

And while specific details regarding programming and fees are still being finalized, residents can expect programming that will support a thriving community and be welcoming to everyone, said a release.

“It is an immense honour to have this opportunity to serve and support Red Deer’s families and communities,” said Nick Parkinson, president and CEO of YMCA of Northern Alberta.

“We are both working towards a common outcome – helping kids and families be successful and increasing a sense of well-being – helping them to ultimately thrive.”

YMCA of Northern Alberta is a registered charity that has been operating in Edmonton since 1907, in Wood Buffalo since 1975 and in Grande Prairie since 2007, according to a release.

Council, with the exception of Coun. Dianne Wyntjes, was supportive of the agreement.

Coun. Ken Johnston said council was making a fundamental and generational investment in the youth and the leadership of Red Deer.

But Wyntjes pointed out that she was concerned about a five-year contract, and would have preferred one of three year’s duration.

“For me, the critical issue is the not going for public tender on this,” she added. “At the end of the day, the YMCA may have been the successful tender received.

“But for me, not going to public tender is a concern.”

Wyntjes also said that for her, the Northside Community Centre represents an opportunity for the community to push itself to see what else it can do in terms of community service.

“What else can we do inside without paying extra money to an outside organization to be able to deliver those services, as well as working with services and agencies that we currently have in our community?

“I’m certainly not opposed to differing operating models. But I believe in this case, we are missing an opportunity to do our due diligence as a municipality to explore with our staff from the ground up to our top management and say, how can we do and deliver services differently?”

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