Statement from Town of Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood on the closure of the YMCA
Today we received some disheartening news that affects all of us. The YMCA, a cornerstone of our downtown, announced that they will not reopen next week. Instead, their doors will close permanently after 162 years in operation. This is a very sad day for the entire region. In a time when we are all dealing with the many challenges thrown at us by COVID-19, this news just adds to the pain we’ve had to endure as a community.
Prior to the pandemic, the YMCA came to the municipal units seeking extra funding and the Town was, as always, glad to provide that. The Town has always been their biggest municipal supporter, and would have continued to be in the future. However, it’s impossible to model for a pandemic and COVID-19 left the YMCA in a terrible position. The overwhelming losses due to COVID-19 combined with past losses, forecasts of reduced membership, and the millions it will take to bring the building up to spec left the YMCA with no other alternative but to close their doors.
The “Y” has served a crucial role as a community hub for all of Yarmouth County. So many counted on it. Its history is a shining example of what countless volunteer hours can provide for a community. Our seniors gathered in the pool and for some really neat exercise routines. Friends met friends. Our youth found a home after school and on weekends, where they learned leadership skills and were safe. It's always been more than a building and the programs. It's more than a pool. It's more than treadmills and ping pong. It's part of our lives. It's built character and confidence and leaders. And it has done so with grace and a caring for all in the community, especially those most vulnerable.
For me and so many others, this cuts deeply on a personal level. I spent my childhood there as so very many of us did. Y Camp was my first job. All three of my children were Whitecaps swim team members. It's been a fixture serving children and families for going on two centuries and it feels like we are losing a family member.
For today, we will all have to work with the grief of losing the Y, but as always, we have to remain strong find solutions. We know the impact this will have on the community and we are now weighing our options. But it will take everyone pulling together to ensure we still have the opportunities provided by the Y in our community going forward. It will require millions of dollars and it will take community support and full support of the federal, provincial, and all municipal units in the region to make this right. We can make this right if we do it TOGETHER.