YMCA Calgary > Eau Claire YMCA Announcement

Eau Claire YMCA Announcement

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Eau Claire YMCA Announcement: February 9, 2022

As an organization that has been privileged to serve Calgarians for 120 years, we take our responsibility to steward the current and future resources of our Association seriously; so that we will be here, creating impact, for the long term. As you know the decision to close the Eau Claire YMCA was not one that was taken lightly, however it was necessary to ensure this aim.

 

Through the summer and fall of 2021 YMCA Calgary partnered with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to run a transparent and wide-reaching open bid process in pursuit of a future owner; with opportunities ranging from repurposing the existing facility to redeveloping the site for its highest and best use.

 

Following a rigorous marketing and decision process, the YMCA Calgary Board of Directors passed a special resolution on January 12th, 2022 to proceed with the sale of the Eau Claire YMCA to Calgary-based Telsec Property Corporation. The sale is expected to close in June, 2022.

 

We remain engaged and supportive of the downtown Calgary revitalization efforts and will continue to look for ways to ensure our presence in the core of the city. In doing so, we also want to honour the incredible history that’s brought us to today. If you have a story or photos from your experience at the Eau Claire YMCA, we encourage you to follow the links below to participate in sharing your great memories.

 

 

Eau Claire YMCA Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on February 9, 2022

Q: What happened with the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA?

A: After extensive due diligence by our senior leadership team, expert advisers, and after careful consideration by our Board of Directors, we closed the YMCA-owned Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA and announced the sale of the building and land to Telsec Property Management with an expected closing date in June 2022.

Q: Why was it closed?

A: This decision was made due to rising costs, a diminishing membership base, extensive capital investments required, challenges in the downtown environment and limited opportunities the facility has in its current form to contribute to the strategic direction of the Association. COVID-19 has heightened these impacts, but the challenges existed well before the pandemic arrived. As an organization that is privileged to serve Calgarians throughout the city, we take our responsibility to steward the current and future resources of our Association very seriously; so that we will be here, creating impact, long after the pandemic is over.

Q: What went into making this decision?

A: YMCA Calgary has done extensive due diligence to determine the status and path forward for the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA facility. This diligence includes:

  • Setting specific principles to guide our actions. The principles are: (1) Long-term look. Decisions must be made with the long-term health and sustainability of the organization in mind, with an eye to community impact (2) Do the right thing. Our decisions will be grounded in YMCA values & aligned with purpose, mission & vision
  • A special ad-hoc committee comprised of YMCA board members and business leaders was struck. Its mandate was to give us advice on how we might proceed and important questions we should ask during the process. Recommendations included to ask ourselves if/how GFECY meets our vision for impact and determine our presence (if any) for downtown and to help determine the desired return on investment. These recommendations were accepted and helped us determine our research and planning arc.
  • A rigorous 6-month process on Master Planning for YMCA Calgary Association. The results of that work led us to a deep dive on GFECY, with Colliers, a consulting firm. The Master Plan Project identified three guiding principles; financial sustainability, strategic alignment and asset optimization.
  • The GFECY facility master planning project took us from 18 potential scenarios down to 10 and finally to 1.
  • A full building assessment to determine what level of capital investment would be required, even to maintain ‘status quo’.
  • A usage and impact analysis which determined we have a more limited spectrum of offerings than other facilities (for example, youth programming, preschool programming.)
  • Detailed financial modelling to determine which scenario is most advantageous to the Association as a whole.
Q: What internal factors put pressure on Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA’s viability?

A:

  • Consistent decline in membership and in contribution
  • GFECY serves 6% of the Association’s total membership
  • Lack of internal amenities exist to meet community needs – eg. universal locker room
  • No other amenities in the building – library, etc.
  • A previous $2-million 3rd floor redevelopment to try and capture larger market share was unsuccessful in boosting membership
  • Changing nature of clientele from the “corporate-driven branch” GFECY once served
  • The facility requires over $10-millon in infrastructure investments in the next 10 years just to maintain the status quo
Q: What external factors put pressure on Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA’s viability?

A:

  • Decrease in corporate office presence downtown (25%+ pre-pandemic vacancy rate, now 30%)
  • Increase in fitness facilities – World Health, Goodlife
  • Increase in companies with fitness facilities in buildings
  • Increase in residential buildings with fitness facilities
  • Parking costs
  • Stalled redevelopment of Eau Claire market area; Green Line uncertainties
  • COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the timeline to make an appropriate decision on GFECY
Q: How can you close your flagship location?

A:

  • This location was well-loved by members, participants and partners for many decades
  • It opened in 1988 and was the backbone and revenue engine of the YMCA Calgary for many years
  • When it opened, the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA was considered a success that “saved the YMCA” after years of Association struggles
  • At its peak membership, this branch had more than 9,500 members + served tens of thousands more per year with licensed child care, day camps and drop-in programs. Currently the membership is 1400 and trending downward
  • Numerous investments in the physical infrastructure, equipment, marketing, and service delivery at the site were made in the past few years, but declines continued
  • We were proud to serve each one of these members and our goal was always to grow membership to serve many more individuals and families in order to ensure the location was financially viable. That has not been the result despite ongoing investment in this facility.
Q: Does this mean YMCA Calgary is in financial trouble?

A: We are confident about our YMCA’s future and the organization remains on a strong financial footing, but we must be cautious in these unprecedented times. The pandemic has affected many Canadian YMCAs and other health and fitness providers across the country, including resulting in permanent closures. We continue to monitor the health of our charity and respond appropriately.

Q: Could a cash injection save the facility?

A:YMCA Calgary has determined that a donor-lead cash injection at this time would not be sufficient to continue to operate the facility due to the significant and sustained challenges it faces.

Q: Are other YMCA Calgary facilities going to close?

A: YMCA Calgary is not considering any other prolonged or permanent facility closures currently.

Q: This facility was named for Jim Gray and his family. What about them?

A: YMCA Calgary is engaging directly with facility namesake Jim Gray and his family to determine how best to continue to honour the substantial contributions this YMCA champion and ambassador has made to our charity and the wider community. We are also speaking with other individuals and organizations who have recognition currently tied to the Eau Claire facility to find suitable and meaningful alternatives.

Q: How are you going to celebrate the contributions of the facility over its long history?

A: We will find a time to safely celebrate the many contributions of the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA with you. We are also inviting people to share stories in celebration of this important facility and community through our web portal.

Q: Is YMCA Calgary abandoning downtown and the city centre?

A: No. YMCA Calgary’s 10-year strategic direction makes a commitment to be here for the long term. We remain engaged and supportive of the downtown revitalization and will continue to look for ways to ensure our presence in the core of the city.

Q: What will guide your planning for what’s next for downtown and area?

A: As a guide, we will use Navigate, our YMCA Calgary’s new 10-year Strategic Direction (2021-2030) to help us determine what’s next across the city, and in central Calgary.

  • We plan to engage the community in a dialogue to determine what facilities, programs and services would better meet the needs of this area of the city
  • Although we may not have a location, we still intend to maintain a meaningful presence in central Calgary
Q: Why did you build fancy new buildings in the suburbs and are now getting rid of an older one?

A: The City of Calgary designed and built the three new recreation facilities that YMCA is now running through an operating agreement. We were chosen by the City through a competitive process to manage these facilities because of our strong financial, impact and community-building track record and our history as an effective and responsible partner.

Q: What does this closure say about YMCA’s commitment to serving Calgarians?

A: We are committed to exploring how we can create impact in new ways that meet the evolving needs of Calgarians. We take great pride in the memorable experiences that have been created at this YMCA. Our YMCA remains committed to the Calgary community.

 

 

Remembering Eau Claire YMCA