AMHERST - It will take $1.4 million in upgrades if the YMCA wants to be sustainable without reducing services.
In its 2009 business proposal, the upgrades could half the current operational costs of the Y, and the bulk of retrofits would be aimed at the pool, which is responsible for 61 per cent of the electricity bill and 45 per cent of the annual heating expenses.
"For us the hitch is sustainability," YMCA managing director Trina Clarke said. "The most pressing concern is the roof. You want to keep the inside water in and the outside water out…if some money fell out of the sky that would be the first thing we would look at."
In its 2009 business plan, the YMCA directed Maricor Group to single out utility costs of the pool, finding upgrades to the roof, insulation and flashing, electrical panels, pool tiles as well as converting its hot water and heat to use natural gas were just some of the things the YMCA can do to save $50,000 of the $110,000 it spends annual in operational costs.
A funding proposal from the YMCA was before the Municipality of Cumberland County and the Town of Amherst to shoulder $1.6 million over a five-year period but the county counter-offered the proposal on Tuesday night, announcing it is ready to commit up to $100,000 towards the capital and operational cost at the YMCA annually for the next five years with conditions, including the pool be maintained for one year, at which point the sustainability of the pool will be reviewed. The county also stipulated the YMCA would need to finalize an agreement with the Town of Amherst.
Some applications have already been made to fund for the necessary upgrades, Clarke said, and more are being explored.
"It's our understanding there are areas we can tap into," Clarke said. "We haven't fully vetted those areas."
Suggestions, however, have been coming in and the public has played a significant role, Clarke said.
Cumberland North MLA Ernie Fage says he personally spoke with Pat Dunn, Minister responsible for Health Promotion and Protection, passing on suggestions he has received from constituents to keep all of the services at the YMCA going.
" The YMCA has certainly been one of the stronger symbols of why people want to come here and we would like to find a business model that works for the community," Fage said.
Federally, Bill Casey's office identified the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program, announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Feb. 6, is awaiting approval from government but could benefit the YMCA. Local hockey rinks, swimming pools and other community sites throughout Canada will be eligible to receive funding for upgrades through the program if the next phase of the federal budget is passed. Application forms for the program are still under development, meaning there's time for YMCA to prepare a pitch.