Lack of funds drives YMCA out
Due to lack of funds the YMCA will conclude their partnership with the Grand Bend Youth Centre as of May 1st.
The Grand Bend Optimist Club and the Grand Bend art centre hope to carry on with programs for all ages.
In a letter to the municipality, Kathi Lomas McGee VP Operations YMCA’s across Southwestern Ontario said, “Over the past three years the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario have operated the Grand Bend Youth Centre of which was funded by the Grand Bend Optimist Club. The Optimist had engaged in an agreement of which they would provide up to $10,000 per year to support the operation of the Youth Centre, this contract concluded in November 2015.
“The Optimist Grand Bend has demonstrated a commitment to youth in the community; however they would like to extend their efforts to other initiatives in the upcoming years and as such, have reduced their financial commitment to the Youth Centre and are not able to fund the agreement in the coming years.
“The Optimist and YMCA agreed to extend the operations 90-days to seek out alternative funding options and a suitable partner that could be established a sustainable commitment for another 2 years. During this time we also explored various delivery models that could be established in collaboration with the community.
“Discussions have occurred with Municipal staff, the Optimist Club of Grand Bend as well as the Grand Bend Art Centre, however we have not been able to establish a suitable partner that will fund the presence of the program and services within the community – in accordance with the YMCAs commitment to program sustainability. The YMCA is unable to Fund the delivery of youth programming in Grand Bend without a funding partner.
“As such, and regretfully noting that no suitable partner has been secured at this time the YMCA is left with no other option than to announce the conclusion of our role as the operator for the youth center on May 01st of this year. I want to thank the municipal staff, Council, and funders for their support over the years, and hope that we may be of service to the residents and community of Grand Bend in the future in some manner.” Council received this letter at the April 5th meeting.
The Grand Bend Optimist Club and the Grand Bend Arts Centre told the Lakeshore Advance they would be interested in pursuing options to continue running the Grand Bend Youth Centre. “We believe the facility has so much to offer if it is used to its full capacity with both the Optimist Club and the Arts Center involved as partners. We believe that we can provide a broader range of uses for the facility and would like to include the community. Studies have shown that there is significant value in arts and culture in economic development and the betterment of youth is something that we all agree on,” said Teresa Marie Phillips for the Art Centre. Optimist member Peter Coleman continued by stating, “We would like to offer user pay sports programmes for youth and painting, pottery, cooking and music programs for all ages. We believe there are potential opportunities to run many more events and we want to set up the ability for the community to be able to rent out the facility for events that they see a need for. We would also like to run some free events for the community.” With the May 1 deadline set by the YMCA, these two groups have engaged Lambton Shores in their quest for operations.
“We look forward to working with Lambton Shores as we move forward in our joint desire to make this facility a user friendly facility that is used by a much broader segment of the Grand Bend Community,” said Phillips.
Lambton Shores mayor Bill Weber said, “I believe the municipality has always and will continue to work with partners and provide options at our facilities for programs that benefit our community. We look forward to exploring opportunities being presented.”