YMCA in trouble again?

Darrell Cole
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Special membership meeting Thursday

AMHERST - The future of the Cumberland YMCA may again be in question.
The Daily News has learned that the downtown recreational facility is again experiencing financial difficulties. The extent of the financial situation is unknown, but the YMCA board has scheduled a special membership meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. to talk to members about a number of issues.
"There are some issues we have to discuss with the membership but we'd rather let them know directly than do it through the media," board chair Bob Nixon said. "It's very important for the membership to be at this meeting."
Nixon said the board is working with both the town and the Municipality of Cumberland but would not elaborate further.
"We're working with both and they're coming up with ideas. It's not something we can solve overnight but there are some options we're looking at," Nixon said.
Along with operating concerns there is also an estimated $500,000 in capital repairs needed including, among other things, a new roof, gym floor and air handling system.
The YMCA has been experiencing financial troubles for quite some time. Things came to a head last December when the organization announced it had a $200,000 accumulated deficit and was facing capital improvements that could no longer be put off.
It appears as though the crisis was averted when the town committed $100,000 earlier this year along with a $60,000 contribution from the county.
Both the Amherst Rotary Club and the Amherst Y's Men have each provided $20,000 while the YMCA had made a similar request to the Amherst Lions Club.
This is not the first time the YMCA has experienced some financial troubles. In the mid-1990s, the facility was closed for 18 months.
The Cumberland YMCA remains the only Y in Canada to reopen after closing for financial reasons. It's highly unlikely it would reopen if it was ever again forced to close.


Organizations: YMCA, Daily News, YMCA board Amherst Rotary Club Amherst Lions Club

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland, Canada

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Recent comments

  • My 2 ¢
    January 18, 2010 - 11:24

    Sorry but the Big 8 is a tiny pool. It does not offer laneway swimming. How can it be used for the swimming teams? The only attraction is the stupid corkscrew slide thst doesnt compare to Magic Mountain. It msy suit Chuckless!! family. But I wish people would look past their narrow-minded dogmatic view and see how a closure could widely impact everyone. Kids, adults and seniors. It is a community center, not just a pool, not just a workout gym.

  • My 2 ¢
    January 18, 2010 - 11:18

    RE: Chuckles!!

    You obviously hsven't been following the stories or threads on this topic. If you are so hard up on cash, there is subsidized membership. It is there for people that are on lower income. All I am saying is that people should be spending their recreation dollars at the YMCA, not some ridiculous tiny pool with a plastic corkscrew because little Johnny wants to slide down one and half turns.

  • Huge
    January 18, 2010 - 11:17

    Well, we all knew this was coming. Lets get on with it and be on our way.

    Its my opinion that bad management was the major factor which caused this current spate of problems at the Y.

    The question now becomes: does the Town and the County come to the party and take over the facility? The town will have a hard job selling this one to residents though, who are sick and tired of constantly propping up the YMCA.

  • Frank
    January 18, 2010 - 11:10

    The facility is an essential service in this day abd age . Similar type of services are run throughout the province by Municipal governments . It should be adopted by the Town and County and budgeted accordingly on an ongoing basis . Some people may be tired of the so called bail outs ,however,lots of citizens are equally fed up with constant threats of closure . It is time for the Mayor and Warden to once again get off their fannies and assume control and operation of this vital service . They have for far too long set back like mildly interested uncles and let the problem slide just as they screwed up the fire fighting issue . IMO

  • tired of listening
    January 18, 2010 - 11:10

    Taxpayers paid for it when it was built
    taxpayers paid to bail it out twice for sure,and now taxpayers are going to pay again if the town and municipality take it over.And if you think that that the two can manage it better than it is now , shake your head and look at some of the decisions they have made over the last years.It was termed a rich mans club when it was built and it continues to be looked at the same way. People today have to make choices ,eat, heat the house , drive the car,or pay to use the Y,what would you do? Recreation can be done on a individual basis and you not need a Y to do it .Have a look at what the town does in regards to recreation in town, if you look at the program booklet that is sent out in the spring and look through it you will see that the majority of the programs are put on by organizations within the town, Soccer, Hockey,fiqureskating ,slowpitch, little/bantam leaque etc, not by the town itself so if you take away the organizations providing programs we would have a very limited recreation program provided by the town itself, so what is our town really doing in regards to providing recreation ??

  • Skinny
    January 18, 2010 - 11:07

    What makes you think it is bad management that has caused the problems this time? Do you work there? Are you a board member? Are you a member who has had interactions with the YMCA staff? You seem to think you know everything when it comes to the YMCA, when in fact you know nothing at all as per your comments last week.

  • Chuckles !!!
    January 18, 2010 - 11:00

    As for My 2 cents ,,,all you took out of that coversation was about the big 8 ,,,do you not think that it is hard for families to come up with the money to for children all the time ,,I am not saying that it is not a good thing and yes it is not just a gym but as you can see it is hard to have money left over for leisure things such as this . It is hard for the Hard Working Family to have enough money to go to the store and get groceries let alone go to the Y ... try this 2 loafs no name bread (cheapest ) ,12 rolls toilet paper (cheapest that is )and gallon of milk thats more then 20.00 right there and that doesn't even touch the grocery list ,,,then add gas on there too and you are ver 30.00 to get that ,,, just crazy !!!!!!!!!!! You want ot blame someone for the YMCA if it closes ,,,,,well blame the government !!!!! Blame TAXES !!!! Blame GAS prices ETC .....dont blame the guy that looks for the cheapest way out to servive in this GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS !!!!!

  • Annoyed
    January 18, 2010 - 10:58

    I totally disagree the Y is definately worth saving. If it were to close it's doors it would be a great loss to the community.

    The YMCA Senior Staff members work incredably hard to keep the place operating but many times decisions are out of their controll. The ones that were suposed to lead the Y in their new strategic plan introduced last year were the YMCA Board of Directors and the CEO (or...Interim Ceo). Many of the decisions such as how to implement that plan and how/when repairs were to be done are up to those individuals and not the senior staff as they must ok the funds for the projects.

    The YMCA is a place that is used by the community, the prices are not high especially based on what you are getting with the price. To say that it is for the rich is ridiculous. The YMCA is accessable to all, through subsidized memberships, which allows them to lead healthier lives. That is something that would not happen at any other facility in the area.

    If people are worried about the amount of money that the YMCA is asking the town for then they should look at other town ventures in the past year. Last year residents were shocked that the town would give $100,000 to the YMCA, well... how much did the stadium renovations cost..... it close to 3 million if I remember correctly (don't remember exact cost). The town residents should be complaining more about the amount for the stadium (a building which is empty half the time) than for a building that the community uses on a daily basis.

    As Snoose refered to earlier, the only thing that this town seems to care about with regards to funding is hockey. If the town wants to stop young adults from leaving town then they should start focusing on more than Hockey.

  • My Y
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    I highly doubt that people view the cumberland ymca as a rich mans club today. its the only gym in town that offers subsidized memberships, naturally, there a lot of people with low incomes who go there.
    The Y gives people a lot more than a chance to work out. i go there almost daily and have made friends of all different ages and learned to be more accepting and less judgemental of others. it has also inspired me to volunteer and do many other things i never would have considered before. it really has given me a different outlook on life.
    the diversity at the cumberland ymca is what makes the place so special. from the tots in the daycare to the seniors (some who are approaching 90yrs old!!)who do aqaufit. it is definitely more than just a gym.

  • in the boonies
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    It will be a sad thing to see close with all the kids in the community, but eventually the business should be able to make it all on it's own without asking for help every few years. Now a days money is hard to come by and asking for handouts in large amounts well it just dont happen. Good luck with the YMCA.I can see asking once but not twice.

  • Snoose
    January 18, 2010 - 10:47

    I'm getting so tired of the negative comments coming out of residents in this town!!
    Do you have any idea just how many families in this area DEPEND on this facility and their incredibly trained childcare staff!! Not to mention how COMPETENT & EDUCATED they are w/ the special needs children in this town & county!!!
    Maybe you 'Mr.Baloney' could look after a child w/ autism from 9-11:30 / 1-3:30 weekdays for us?? Do you have the education required to deal w/ their needs??
    Can you provide a safe, nurturing place for ALL children from this community ? Can any of us?
    Hmmm, maybe if more used the facility there would be happier parents,children...how about employers?? maybe less sick time from their staff,more productivity?? The whole country knows that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce!
    Look around @ the obesity in this community & give all your heads a shake. Better yet, look @ outpatients waiting room,Tim Hortons' line ups...or drive thrus (that's a laugh & a half)!!
    OMG this town needs to get active,STAY active & be an EXAMPLE to our children of healthy, responsible choices!! God help ALL of us if we don't!
    Before any of you naysayers start going on again about the price of memberships, I posted in the last article written about how the subsidized memberships work. All you have to do is open your mouths ( w/o a donut in it ) and ask!!

  • Corey
    January 18, 2010 - 10:44

    Suggestion: How to Save the YMCA: Get Mayor Hallee, Warden Hunter, and a number of the councillors to dress up as the Village People and perform the song YMCA. Hold this event at the bandshell in Victoria Square, and sell tickets to it. Now that he holds the licence, George Baker can also sell hotdogs, fries, and pop to the masses during the event, and donate the proceeds. An evening of entertainment is provided for all, and the YMCA remains open!
    Young man, there's a place you can go.
    I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
    You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
    Many ways to have-a -good -time.

    It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!

    Good luck, folks!

  • Snoose
    January 18, 2010 - 10:44

    Dear Tired of listening from NB ,
    I don't know where you get your information from,but the last thing the Y is, is a rich man's club !!
    I can't and won't revisit things that happened when the building opened (as I was still not yet a 'grown up') but I can assure you that this BUILDING is more than a tax grab, or a leisure center for the wealthy & bored!!
    This building belongs to everyone in this county. More than that it's the backbone of MANY of those programs that you so willy-nilly quoted from the Recreation Dept. Mailer. Where do you think that many of these youngsters get their first taste of sports, gym, swimming? the future HOCKEY players of Cumberland County have to start somewhere!
    OMG this town frustrates me to extremes over basic principles of equal opportunities for ALL children...it makes me sad, frustrated & a wee bit angry *sigh*.
    If this was the Minor Hockey Program, we wouldn't be having this conversation, but I forgot...that's affordable (sarcasm Jason).

  • *Hoping*Wishing*Waiting*
    January 18, 2010 - 10:43

    For the record the ymca sells family day passes for $14.25. youth day and senior $4, adult $6.25.
    a day pass allows a person/family to use everything in the facility for an entire day (youth and teen centre, raquetball, basketball, weight room, cardio room, drop in fitness classes, pool, hot tub, suana).
    they also have special $2 swims ($2 per person regardless of age) four days a week in the evenings and on weekends annndd they offer subsidized memberships based on a person or familys income/expenses.
    i think they are doing everything they can do keep rates affordable.
    there is no doubt this community needs this centre, whether it is a ymca or not, as long as it remains accessible to all.
    it will be sad to see the y's men and y's mennetes, volunteer groups who fundraise thousands of dollars for community organizations every year, be disbanded if the Y was to turn in to a 'community centre'. i guess we will have to wait and see what happens..

  • My 2 ¢
    January 18, 2010 - 10:39

    I agree with Frank Speaker on this one! I go to the YMCA almost daily and see a lot of kids coming and going. I also see a lot of seniors and adults coming and going. The cenre is a busy place. I am not sure what lead to its current situation (mismanagement) but I think it will be sorely missed by many. I hope the town and the county realize this and try to come with a plan such as taking over. I would like to see a plebiscite before any decision is made as I am sure a lot of citizen will support the YMCA centre.

  • Tanya
    January 18, 2010 - 10:38

    As I am reading some of the comments I just cant believe how people look & assume situations. We the YMCA are a family and we thrive on being a Team when one of us is in need we all reach out to help and do anything possible to fix the problem. Now it looks as thou we are in need and everyone acts as if they've never been financially in trouble it happens to everyone some facilities, people, companies a little more then others BUT it happens & honestly theres noone to blame its jus bad luck. To me the YMCA is valued & this community needs it our children need it, its not a want its a need, I as a mother dont want my children hanging out on the streets cause theres nothing for them to do as im sure all you other parents feel the same. Yea sure the town could turn in into a youth facility but what about the elderly who enjoy friday line dancing an tea jus spending time with friends, what about the weight room, aquafit who alot of women & men enjoy so much, what about Y dances & Friday Fun, toonie swims & the YMCA logo it would never be the same. So as a community & family we need to work together as a TEAM and save our YMCA!

  • Chuckles !!!
    January 18, 2010 - 10:35

    I really do think the cost for the kids to go there is a big concern also ,,as the price of gas goes up the fewer parents have a chance to go there with their children such as my family for example we only live 20 minutes away and we have 3 boys and one on the way but to go swimming there for our family for an hour or so is 20.00 or more but you can get a pass at the big 8 and they have a slide and everything for the kids and it is a lot cheaper then that ...Parents are really having a hard time to keep up with the growing cost these days and along the way the kids are really getting hit hard also because most of the sports our kids are in includes meals, travel and overnight stays.... really you have to be very well off to keep up with a schedule like that...

  • Jason
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    Oh, cut the bleeding heart crap, will ya? We've all got our money, management, and personnell problems to deal with, Huge. I mean, down here in Halifax there are literally hundreds and thousands of management types, personnel types, and they are yapping and bleeping and bleeping, yapping and yelling and crying- they're *yapping* and they're *bleeping*. I can't stand it anymore! They're *yapping* and *bleeping* and *yelling*! Why doesn't somebody pull the plug!

    Seriously, it'd be a shame to have the YMCA closed for nostalgic reasons personally and the fact its one of the last local places for youth and adults to go for activity.

    Mayor Hallee has no problem writing the ADN when its a Union drive at Poly Cello (note its not a shutdown) but he is conspiciously silent on this issue.

  • Y not worth saving
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    why should the town and the county bail out something that's not worth saving. things that were supposed to get repaired the last time money was given to the y were never taken care of. some people should be held accountable as to where and how this money was spent. and as for senior staff if they spent more time doing their jobs maybe the y wouldn't be in such a mess.