YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka proposes new facility next to downtown Barrie Public Library

YMCA is seeking $2.5 million from City of Barrie

Y not?

After being uprooted from its original plan to build a new YMCA on the former Barrie Central Collegiate property in the west part of downtown, the Y has now zeroed in on city-owned land in the core, next to the Barrie Public Library on Worsley Street.

In a presentation to City Council on Monday, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka envisions a three-storey facility at a cost of $50 million.

Proposed new YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

The new YMCA would include more than 40 childcare spaces in three classrooms, a gym, an indoor track, an aquatics centre, the cardiac and cancer rehabilitation program in partnership with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, and a 14-room transitional program operated by Youth Haven.

“With the City’s support, you are increasing the Y’s capacity to deliver programs that inspire people to reach their full potential,” wrote the YMCA in a report to council. “You are maximizing the impact of community partners delivering programs and services onsite. You are contributing to the overall redevelopment of our downtown core. You are investing in the health and vitality of Barrie’s future.”

The YMCA is seeking $2.5 million from the City, which would match the contribution from the County of Simcoe. The Ontario government committed nearly $30 million back in June. The YMCA got $4.5 million from the sale of its former Grove Street location, and a $10 million community campaign has raised more than half of its goal.

Coun. Ann-Marie Kungl asked Y officials to explain how they were going to cover off an approximately $5.1 million funding gap.

“We do have a plan to continue to raise funds from the community, and we also have an opportunity to borrow some funds if needed,” explained Jill Tettmann, CEO and President of the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka.

Brian Tamblyn, co-chair of the fundraising committee, pointed out nobody has said no to them so far when they have asked for money to support the project.

There were a number of questions about the design of the facility. Councillors were told the design plan was in its very early stages.

Image provided/YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka

The property the YMCA has selected is currently a parking lot, also known as the H-Block.

View from McDonald Street toward Worsley Street/Barrie 360

Tamblyn said partnerships are key to the project.

According to the documentation presented to council, the new Downtown Barrie Y will create space for:

  • Licensed child care to support young working families.
  • Aquatic programs to promote health, fitness, and water safety.
  • Cardiac and cancer rehabilitation programs in partnership with the RVH.
  • A youth hub to provide a variety of organized and drop-in programming.
  • Opportunities for young and old to engage in active living and amateur sport.
  • Transitional housing and supports for youth at risk in partnership with Youth Haven.
  • Employment and volunteer opportunities for hundreds of members of our community.
  • Fitness amenities to connect people to the resources they need to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • A safe and inclusive community that brings together people of all ages and lived experience.
  • Shared program space for other community based organizations to meet and serve their clients.

Coun. Robert Thomson said he was nervous about the ask from the YMCA.

“I’ve looked through all the finances of the County (County of Simcoe), and some of the money is already our taxpayers,” Thomson said. “I don’t want to rain on the parade. It’s been a great and positive presentation, but I think that it’s quite an ask with the land and everything.”

“But that’s always for another time. I think it’s a great asset to the City and I think it’s great for the downtown. But I do have some challenges with the ask, and I’ll be honest.”

Mayor Jeff Lehman said council would likely tackle the funding request from the YMCA later in January.