Sault Ste. Marie YMCA exploring a proposal to stay open, mayor says

Minutes before a delegation was scheduled to speak at Monday’s council meeting about the importance of the YMCA in Sault Ste. Marie, the mayor provided an update.On April, 16, the YMCA announced it will close by May 15 due to increased operational costs, inflation and a slow return to pre-COVID membership.The building the YMCA runs on McNabb Street is listed for sale and parents are receiving updates about the daycare spots.On Monday, city council in Sault Ste. Marie met for the first time since the announcement of the closure.”This afternoon and into this evening, the YMCA Board met and approved exploring a proposal that could see their operation sustained,” Mayor Matthew Shoemaker said.”The YMCA announced on April 16 that they were going to cease operations on May 15. This compressed timeframe required the Y, the city and the private sector to work tirelessly and oftentimes around the clock to attempt to come up with a solution to the impending closure.”Shoemaker did not provide details on the proposal.”There’s a solution that was presented to the Y today that shows some promise,” he said.”It will take some time to get through the various due diligence hurdles and determine if it is viable.”Shoemaker did say the Y and the city would provide updates on a regular basis.’All of those things and more’Members from the Save the YMCA Group Sault Ste. Marie were present and spoke at the meeting.Kirsten Duke spoke on behalf of the group. She says the community has stepped up and is sharing stories about the impact of the YMCA.”It’s not just a place for kids to learn to swim or learn gymnastics. It’s not just a place for seniors to rehabilitate from hip surgeries or heart issues. It’s not just a place for people to have a safe place to shower and exist away from daily hardships,” she said.”It’s not just a daycare entrusted with our littlest and most vulnerable citizens. It’s all of those things and more.”She said hearing the update from Shoemaker was encouraging, but said if the closure goes through the “impact out be catastrophic.”‘Courage to come and speak’City councillor Angela Caputo said it was encouraging to see community members stepping up to help save the YMCA.”It’s great to see this support for the YMCA and I hope that this continues,” she said.”My daughter is learning how to swim at the YMCA. I have a membership there.”Councillor Sandra Hollingsworth said she was also encouraged by the support for the YMCA.”It takes a lot of courage to come and speak,” she said. “But this is what this community is about.”

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