The Chilliwack YMCA is planning a massive renovation that will close the facility for about one year. In the meantime, they’ve partnered with other organizations to allow for free “pop-up programming.”

Programming will still be available in many forms throughout the city

The Chilliwack YMCA is getting ready to close their doors for an entire year.

The Y announced last year that their Hocking Ave. location would be undertaking a major upgrade, including a renovation and additional floor space, beginning this July.

“It’s been a long time coming and it’s very exciting because we’ll be able to offer more services to more people,” says Sheri Josephson, the transition manager for the Chilliwack YMCA. “It will be 25 per cent bigger, the eastern side will be demolished and rebuilt, and the west side will be dramatically improved.”

She said the new building will allow for better, flexible space, “designed for the way we work with families now.”

A grand re-opening is planned for September 2018, but in the meantime, the staff at the YMCA will be working hard to deliver some of its most important programming, she added. Those include Live Well classes for seniors, and YMove for children. Those are the YMCA’s two most vulnerable client groups, Josephson said, and they want to make sure those clients don’t fall through the cracks during the building closure.

So, over the past few months they’ve worked out partnerships with other organizations around the community to keep programming alive, and its members active. And as an added incentive, active members will pay no fees for these temporary programs. And those free memberships can be used at YMCAs all over the country.

They’re calling the temporary classes “pop-up programming” and some of the details are still being worked out.

YMCA Live Well classes will be held at Chilliwack Alliance Church at 8700 Young Road on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 12 noon beginning July 18. These fun classes will provide exercise for both active older adults and those that need a seated class. They are ideal for graduates of the YMCA Cardiac Care program, as well as anyone looking for a class that combines socially connecting with others while exercising.

Yoga will continue to keep your spirit calm and your muscles limber through classes held on Thursdays at Firehall #1 located at 45950 Cheam Ave. Classes will be held in the Roy Gray room on the main floor.

Chilliwack Walks, in partnership with the City of Chilliwack, will continue this summer beginning July 4 at locations throughout the city. There are eight walks in eight weeks, and more information is available on the YMCA’s website.

Group fitness classes will be held prior to some week’s Chilliwack Walks sessions at nearby parks and other spaces. Classes like Bootcamp and Yoga will be announced weekly on their website: gv.ymca.ca/chilliwack.

YMove is a physical literacy program for kids ages three to nine, developed by the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and Sport for Life that teaches children the key skills necessary to live an active healthy life. Typical activities will include games that get kids balancing, jumping, falling, running, hopping, skipping and rolling. YMove will happen at a variety of locations through-out the summer. Details will be announced soon.

Josephson said members should keep tabs on the website, as they work to secure plans for fall programs in the near future.

“What we’re doing is approaching things right now seasonally,” she said. Live Well will run all year, but the Youth Leadership Development Program will also continue in the fall, operating out of the Neighbourhood Learning Centre (NLC) beside Chilliwack secondary. The groups of kids who enrol in that program are some of the most vulnerable, Josephson said. The NLC is a central meeting place for the schools served by the program, Robertson and Central elementary, and A.D. Rundle and Chilliwack middle schoos.

“We asked, ‘who are the people who will be really feeling it?,’” she said, when deciding which programs to operate.

She acknowledged that the year will include some “short term pain” but that will all be worth it when the new building re-opens.

The YMCA will maintain an office at 308-46167 Yale Rd. during the temporary closure. Branch manager Jennifer Love and Kelly Robertson, manager of special projects will be based out of this office to assist members. The YMCA Employment and Training programs like Youth Works will also be held at the office.

The work will begin right after closing on June 30, and is expected to take several months. The renovations will include a complete tear down of the eastern half of the building, leading to a bright, windowed exterior, adjustable multipurpose spaces, universal change rooms, and much more. The project will be partly funded by the City of Chilliwack. The YMCA currently has more than 4,000 members and the space on Hocking Ave. is no longer adequate for their needs, YMCA staff said in November 2016.

They will also be holding a commercial auction through Chapmans in July, as much of the fitness equipment will be replaced as part of the project.