The Chilliwack YMCA may be closing for an entire year to drastically revamp their building, but that doesn’t mean programming has to come to a halt.
The building will close on June 30, 2017, and reopen on July 1, 2018. The renovations, as first reported in the Oct. 28 Chilliwack Progress, 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.
Karen Price, director of the Chilliwack Family YMCA, says it’s a renovation that the community has been waiting for, for a very long time. The actual plans that were released last week have been in the works for at least six months, she says.
Instead of shutting out their members throughout that year, the YMCA will be looking for partners in the community to help them carry out programming.
“We will be exploring any options brought to us, or ones we think of that deserve consideration,” Price said this week. They want to keep as many programs running as possible throughout their one year of closure.
They’re calling it “pop-up” programming, and it’s going to take some creativity to pull it off, Price said.
And because they are just in the first stages of consulting with the public, she can’t say what those pop-ups will look like.
“We will be exploring things in the community spaces, and by May 2017, we will announce what programs we will be offering,” she said. “We definitely are looking at a plan, but we don’t yet know what that’s going to look like.”
They are hoping their members will stay loyal to them over the move, and are offering some incentives on top of the pop-up programming to help with that.
It includes a free membership over the closure, which offers free access to YMCAs all over Canada.
That will come as welcome news to members like Neil Haggan, who feels that members weren’t consulted on the upcoming changes.
“They’re going to shut down this whole thing down for one year,” he said. “The people that go there are mainly seniors, and we weren’t even consulted. It’s a done deal.”
Price says while they have drawn up plans, and a timeline for closure, they still don’t have a builder for the project. That will be handled by the YMCA’s corporate office, not locally.
And because that process hasn’t been complete yet, Price couldn’t say what the price tag will be for the hefty rebuild.
It’s the large and ever growing base of members that has prompted the rebuild, Price adds.
“We are currently at 4,200 members and we are operating out of spaces that are no longer big enough to be in,” she said.
The new facility won’t just look nicer. More importantly, it will allow more diverse programming simultaneously.
For example, Price explains, a family could go to the YMCA together, and the parents could each take in a strength and conditioning class and a yoga while their children are in leadership, and the childminding centre.
They could all then meet back up in the spacious, bright lobby, and head home together. Overall, the new facility will help the YMCA meet their objectives as an organization. Most of the feedback she’s getting is positive and optimistic.
“I think people are seeing that it’s a short term pain for long term gain,” she said. “The big comment is ‘look at all that light coming in.’ There are a lot of open areas with a lot of glass and light.”
In the end, it’s going to be a top-notch facility, all with brand new equipment, too.
“We’ve waited such a long time for this,” she said. “We’ve worked hard for this and the Chilliwack community deserves it.”
Anybody wanting up to date progress reports can sign up for an email list from the YMCA on their website.
Fundraising this weekend
The YMCA will be holding their annual YMCA Strong Kids Megathon, this Saturday, Nov. 5.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is open to all ages. Events will be taking place throughout the YMCA, including spin classes, cardio classes, family fitness, a photo booth, and more. There is a registration fee and participants are encouraged to sign up this week online and start finding pledges.
Their goal for Saturday’s event is $10,000.
For more information, visit vanymcamegathon.ca and click on the Chilliwack tab.