The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka announced today that it has selected 555 Bayview Drive in Barrie as the potential location for the new Barrie YMCA. This announcement follows 10 months of extensive site assessments and more than 10 potential locations to seek out the best available location to provide the YMCA with the opportunity to create the safe, vibrant and welcoming community centre that has been in the works for so long.
“The YMCA community’s confidence in and commitment to a new Barrie facility has never been higher,” explained Jill Tettmann, CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka. “This process was about finding the best available site to serve our members and community, to meet the needs of our partners, and to best steward the generous contributions of our donors and government partners – because our community of supporters is what allows the YMCA to bring exciting capital projects like this to life.”
This modern community centre will feature best-in-class health and fitness facilities and programs, an aquatic centre, youth outreach programs and transitional housing, community meeting spaces, rehabilitation programs, and an indoor playground. It’s the right mix of programs and services, developed through extensive community engagement, to meet the needs of Barrie and the surrounding area for another 100 years.
“The City of Barrie looks forward to everything that the new YMCA facility will bring to our growing city, said Mayor Nuttall. “The immense community effort to support the YMCA in finding the best suited location is proof that the residents of Barrie will be thrilled to see this project finally come to fruition. The YMCA and the City of Barrie share the common goal: to ensure Barrie is a safe and welcoming city with ample opportunities of success for all the citizens of Barrie. We’re excited to see what the future holds for the Barrie YMCA.”
This is an exciting time for the Barrie YMCA project as it generates new momentum for the next phase of the project and we wouldn’t be here without the deep trust and support from donors, funders, partners, members and staff. We are incredibly appreciative of this support and will continue to honour that trust as we make each decision to bring the Barrie YMCA to life.
The next step in the process towards building the Barrie YMCA is working on a shared vision for the site location with the City of Barrie and an extensive due diligence process at the site, which involves developing a new site plan, negotiating the land lease with the City of Barrie, reviewing the site’s physical and environmental conditions, and more.
Are you still going to build in the downtown core?
Our YMCA is always open to any viable option that allows us to serve more individuals and families in Barrie and surrounding areas. We continue to be open to opportunities and partnerships across the city and region that will expand our reach and impact. The new site allows us to ensure sustainability and impact for the YMCA for many years to come.
Why did the YMCA not secure a downtown location in Barrie?
While a downtown YMCA was part of our original vision, we were unable to secure a suitable location that had the size to allow us to realize our vision and was financially viable. We worked with experts in the field to assess the suitability of all sites available in Barrie, including multiple downtown locations that we explored with several different partners and developers, but ultimately, there were no suitable downtown sites. Expanding our search to other areas in Barrie has allowed us the opportunity to create the safe, vibrant, and welcoming centre of community we have always planned.
What programs and services does the YMCA provide in Barrie right now?
We remain steadfastly committed to our other programs and services in Barrie, which employ over 150 community members and serve more than 928 Barrie residents each month. Those programs include licensed child care and before and after school programs, summer day camps, outdoor education in schools, youth services (youth gambling, youth justice, youth in transition, youth mental health and youth employment), employment programming and immigrant services, and support for the Settlement Workers in Schools program.
Are you concerned about losing your government funding?
We are in continuous communication with the Province and continue to receive positive feedback about their commitment to this project. They have been informed and are supportive of the new site selection and due diligence process.
Are you using the proceeds of recent sales to fund the increased budget (e.g. Orillia, Geneva Park)?
As a regional organization focused on building a strong, healthy and inclusive Simcoe/Muskoka, we respect the individual needs and characteristics of every community we operate in. It is not our intention to use the proceeds from one property sale to service the budget on another project.
Recent property and capital decisions in other communities are separate and distinct from this project, and have always been being treated as such. In conjunction with the rollout of our new strategic plan, we are undertaking a thoughtful process to make a plan for how the proceeds of any recent capital sales will be used to respond to needs in the region and support the long-term sustainability of the YMCA. This community engagement process is already underway and began in the Orillia community and will expand out to the region from there.
What about donors who have already given; what can they expect with the new site?
Our utmost priority is to steward the needs and wishes of our members, donors, funders and partners. Our community of generous supporters is what allows the YMCA to bring exciting capital projects like this to life. We are so grateful and will continue to honour their trust in all of our decisions and actions around this project. We invite any questions regarding contributions to this project to be directed to Laura Kelly, Senior Director of Philanthropy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is this project in jeopardy?
We remain confident about and committed to serving the Barrie community, and we want to do that in the most financially responsible and sustainable way possible. We have already raised nearly $5.5M from generous community donors and received commitments of $29.9M from the Province of Ontario and $2.5M from the County of Simcoe.
What is the cost of the project?
The full costing of the new site location will be part of our due diligence process over the coming months. We are confident that our selected location will allow us to develop our vision of a new centre of community while maintaining our strong financial foundation.
When will this project be completed?
Our goal is to break ground in 2024 to ensure we meet our project targets.
Will your partnership with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre be affected?
Currently, the YMCA works with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre to deliver Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and iCan post-cancer treatment rehabilitation to patients across Simcoe County through our five health and wellness locations. At 555 Bayview Drive, we’ll be able to expand the rehabilitation programs due to the size of the location.
Does the new YMCA in the south end replace the plans for a new City of Barrie Rec Centre?
We are not familiar with the City of Barrie’s plans to build a new recreation centre.
Is the selected site accessible via transit?
One of the important factors we considered when selecting sites was accessibility for our members. The new site at 555 Bayfield Drive is currently on the Barrie transit system and we will continue to work with the City of Barrie as they increase the transit services to meet the population growth expected near the selected site as outlined in their Transportation Master plan.
Will the new YMCA have green initiatives to improve sustainability?
The YMCA knows how important green initiatives are to our members and our organization; we continually work to reduce our environmental footprint across our many physical locations. We will explore our options as part of our site development process, and have asked our architects to incorporate sustainability into the facility’s final design.